- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2014

One of the holiest days, oldest traditions, and joyous times in Judaism begins Friday at sundown.

Yom Kippur, also called the Day of Atonement, is a serious day, but it should not be a somber one for followers of the Jewish faith, said Rabbi Scott Perlo, associate director of Jewish programming at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.

“The Talmud says there are no more joyous days than Yom Kippur,” he said. “That joy, the joy that comes with forgiveness, reconciliation.”

Rabbi Perlo said Yom Kippur is about separating the two drives within every human being.

“There’s a drive to do good, and a drive to not do good,” he said. “Both are necessary, both make us who we are. Yom Kippur is about separating them back out again and letting the drive for good win. It’s asking forgiveness for the time when the drive to do bad has overtaken us.”

The Jewish new year — which is now 5775 — began last week. Yom Kippur is begins Friday night just before sundown and ends when the stars come out Saturday.

A majority of that time is spent in services.

“It’s the most spiritually rigorous day of the year,” Rabbi Perlo said, adding that followers also do not eat, drink, take showers, use cosmetics or have sex during Yom Kippur.

Avi West, senior education officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, said the holiday is a time to unplug.

“There’s so much static, you’re not looking inside,” Mr. West said. “Atonement means you make up for something. That starts at home, meaning in yourself. At-one-ment. Finding that wholeness. When you’re straight with yourself, with fellow human beings, with your God.”

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