Yom Kippur 2023: Free services available in LA County

FILE: Rabbi Erez Sherman of the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles talks before the reading from the Torah during the Yom Kippur service. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images).

Yom Kippur begins at sundown Sunday with observant Jews fasting and seeking forgiveness for their sins, with the president and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles emphasizing the importance of kindness.

"However you choose to observe, please consider that as Jews forgiveness begins with kindness," Rabbi Noah Farkas told City News Service. "Kindness is a powerful force that lifts us out of our own self-interest. It is what inspired our federation's work to lead and help those in need.

"We hope you do the same and wish everyone strength and light for the new year."

According to Jewish tradition, Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day, is the day 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.

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Observant Jews believe that God inscribes the names of the righteous in the Book of Life on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, 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 ram's horn called a shofar.

Yom Kippur concludes at sundown Monday, ending the 10-day period on the Jewish calendar known as Days of Teshuvah, which is variously translated as repentance, return and change, and the Days of Awe. Many Jews fast on Yom Kippur and spend much of the time in synagogues.

While most congregations require membership and tickets for High Holy Days services, several organizations will conduct free services.

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A Kol Nidre service will be conducted at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Laugh Factory Hollywood, a morning service at 11 a.m. Monday and a Neilah service at 6 p.m. Monday.

People planning to attend are advised to arrive at least 45 minutes early to guarantee a seat.

The services will be streamed on the club's website, laughfactory.com.

"These services are especially important for people who are out of town, away from home, or are in hospitals or retirement homes locally and across the globe," Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada said.

This will be the 41st consecutive year that The Laugh Factory has conducted free High Holy Days services.

The JEM Center in Beverly Hills will hold a Yom Kippur Eve service at 6:50 p.m. Sunday. On Monday, a traditional service will be held at 10 a.m., a Yizkor memorial service at approximately 1 p.m., an afternoon service at 4:45 p.m. and a concluding service at 6 p.m.

Registration can be made at www.jemcommunitycenter.com/events/high-holiday-services-2023-2023-09-24-19-00. Additional information is available by calling 310-772-0000.