Kol Nidre online

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In college I became a brother of Zeta Beta Tau, a historically Jewish fraternity that became non-sectarian in the '50s. About a third of the brothers in our chapter were Jewish. They came from all over the country, from different backgrounds and had widely different approaches to religious observance. From the brother taking time out from the chapter retreat for Sabbath prayers to the brother who made himself a matzoh, ham, and cheese sandwich during Passover, the experience allowed me to see the diversity within the Jewish faith lived out on a daily basis.

The one observance that united everyone every year was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a day of fasting, corporate prayer, and confession of sin. This year the fast begins before sunset this coming Sunday, September 27, 2009.

The ZBT house was within walking distance of three or four synagogues, but many Jews don't live with reach of a synagogue or won't be able to attend for some reason. Those serving in the US military overseas, for example, may find themselves in a country where Jewish public worship is not permitted.

For those who for some reason can't physically attend services, the Jewish TV Network is offering, for the third year, a live online broadcast of Kol Nidre, the service that inaugurates the fast day.

The service will be live online at http://jewishtvnetwork.com/highHolidays at 9 p.m. Eastern time, 6 p.m. Pacific and will be available on-demand following the conclusion of the service. Last year's service ran about two and a half hours.

Last year about 220,000 people watched the service from all over the U.S. and Canada and beyond.

Some of the testimonials in the press release were especially touching:

"My father was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It is likely that this will be our last High Holy Days together. This broadcast allowed my father, my daughter and I to share the High Holy Days together. I wish I could have shown you my father sitting and watching your broadcast while holding the hand of his granddaughter." - Kathy

"Being a part of your congregation tonight made me feel as if my dreams of finding the perfect synagogue finally came true. The music, the outstanding musicians, the Rabbi and the sermon, the excitement of the congregation made the spirit of Yom Kippur come alive for me. I spent this night at home with my mother who is 90 years old, partially blind, feeble, fragile and too weak to go to a traditional service. We spent the evening together, watching and listening from the computer in my bedroom. Although we were alone, it was as if we were united with your entire congregation, and we didn't feel alone at all." - Janice and Millie

"Thank you so much for providing a sanctuary for me. I could feel my father (deceased) standing next to me; I could smell his suit and the hint of his cologne. I could feel the presence of God's arms around me just as I did as a child and young adult when I attended Yom Kippur services." - Melissa

The service will be led by Rabbi Naomi Levy of Nashuva, a Los Angeles based Jewish community. From the press release:

Nashuva offers a passionate, highly engaging service complete with a dynamic, seven member, multi ethnic, multi racial "band" that adds inspirational, modern takes on traditional prayers and hymns. Nashuva is based in Los Angeles and is as much a social action organization as it is a house of prayer.

With the intent to connect with Jews of all denominations, Levy founded the Nashuva organization to reach people who may not be part of the conventional Jewish structure. Unlike any other conservative Rabbi, Levy presents a whole new approach to Jewish prayer that includes elements of global sounds, meditation, dance and translations of Hebrew prayers that are rarely experienced.

For those of us Christians who know Jewish worship only through the pages of the Bible, the webcast is an opportunity to learn about modern observance of this most holy of holy days.

(Thanks to my Twitter pal Esther Kustanowitz for the information about the online Kol Nidre service.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 23, 2009 6:56 PM.

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