LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Yom Kippur began at sundown Wednesday with some services conducted in non-traditional ways for the second consecutive year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Venice-based The Open Temple conducted its Kol Nidre service Wednesday at Santa Monica cemetery and has scheduled its Yom Kippur service Thursday at the beach.
Wednesday's service was titled, "A Walk through the (Funeral) Park" and described as "a walking meditation with headphones, liturgy and the unexpected."
The 4 p.m. beach service is part of The Open Temple's "Urban Retreat" with a pass costing $180 and available online, too.
The Open Temple began in 2010 when four families sought a personalized Torah education for their children, with consideration for their needs as intermarried families from an international background.
The Open Temple House opened in 2016 as a center for creative Jewish spirituality serving musicians, performers and what the synagogue called "the spiritually creative" in Venice.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic The Open Temple has conducted services when everyone was in his or her own kayak in the Venice Canals and where each participant was on a bicycle.
"When I look back on the past year, what inspires me the most is the way that the Jewish community has thought outside the box and displayed incredible innovation in order to keep people safe, connected and inspired," said Rabbi Ilana Grinblat, vice president of community engagement for the Board of Rabbis of Southern California at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
The JEM Community Center will conduct what it bills as "The High Holidays Under The Skies" in a tent in Beverly Hills. Its Yom Kippur Eve service will begin at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, a traditional Yom Kippur service at 10 a.m. Thursday, a Yizkor service at 12:30 p.m., an afternoon service at 4:45 p.m. and a concluding service at 6:10 p.m.
There is space for 1,000 people. Social distancing will be observed and masks are required. An online RSVP is required.
Many organizations will stream their services.
The Laugh Factory will conduct a Kol Nidre service at 6 p.m. Wednesday, a Yom Kippur morning service at 11 a.m. Thursday and a concluding service at 6 p.m. Thursday.
In-person attendance is limited to 100 people because of social distancing protocols. Attendees must present a negative COVID-19 test or a vaccination card prior to entering The Laugh Factory. Masks are mandatory for all attendees.
Reservations are required and can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the 38th consecutive year The Laugh Factory has provided free High Holy Days services.
"Last year during the High Holidays, when indoor services in Los Angeles were prohibited under public health orders, the Jewish community found ways to be together spiritually even while apart physically," Grinblat said.
"Virtual services gave us the ability to transcend geography and join with people throughout the country and the world in prayer, song and learning. As the pandemic continues, this medium remains a powerful way of connection for many synagogues."
Yom Kippur concludes at sundown Thursday, ending the 10-day period on the Jewish calendar known as Days of Teshuvah, which is variously translated as repentance, return and change. Many Jews fast on Yom Kippur and customarily spend much of the time in synagogues.
According to Jewish tradition, Yom Kippur is the day on which Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the second set of commandment tablets — he had smashed the first — and announced God's pardon to the people for worshipping a golden calf.
Observant Jews believe that God inscribes the names of the righteous in the Book of Life on Rosh Hashana and seals the book on Yom Kippur, 10 days later.
For that reason, the traditional greeting among Jews on Yom Kippur is Gemar Chatima Tova, which means "good final sealing" and conveys the wish: "May your name be sealed in the book of life."
Yom Kippur services begin with the Kol Nidre, an ancient prayer that literally means "all vows" or "all promises." The last service of the day ends with the sounding of a shofar.
"Yom Kippur offers a final chance at repentance, an opportunity to right our wrongs, restore our souls, and renew our sacred commitments to God and each other," said Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles' first elected Jewish mayor.
"As we enter this day of reflection, may each of us be sealed in the Book of Life."
Bernard Cohn was appointed acting mayor in 1878 by his fellow members of what was then known as the Common Council following the death of Frederick A. MacDougal. Cohn was defeated by J.R. Toberman and was mayor for 15 days.
In his Yom Kippur message, President Joe Biden said, "For millennia, Jewish communities have marked Yom Kippur as an occasion to reflect and pray; fast and seek forgiveness; account for past transgressions, and commit to future change.
"At its core, this sacred and solemn day reaffirms a universal principle at the essence of our humanity: that, through word and deed, we each have the ability to right wrongs, mend rifts, and heal wounds. That every place where we have fallen short provides an opportunity for growth, and that by acknowledging shortcomings with honesty and humility, before our Creator and to one another, we can forge a more promising future for ourselves, for our communities and for our country."