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Jewish Community Celebrates Yom Kippur

DETROIT (WWJ) - It's that time of year when Detroit's Jewish community gathers together with families and friends to celebrate Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jewish community. Jews traditionally observe the holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

"It is a phenomenal day. I can't describe it. If you've never lived Yom Kippur, you'd think it was just depriving yourself of food and drink for 25 hours or so and standing in prayer. It is exhilarating," said Emeritus Rabbi David Nelson.

Nelson, who serves at several Jewish centers across Metro Detroit, said to prepare for the hours of prayer, he avoids caffeine the week before the holiday so he can skip having an afternoon headache during the fast.

"Yom Kippur is very spiritual, but the work spiritual has ritual in it. So, there is ritual. We do have prayers and there is beautiful music. It's a lovely, lovely experience."

Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im ("Days of Awe"). At the conclusion of the day, families will "break the fast" with a festive meal.

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