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NYC Jews Prepare For Yom Kippur, A Time For Reflection

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Wednesday is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, also known as "the day of atonement."

Starting at sunset, Jews begin a full day of fasting.

CBS2's Lisa Rozner has more on how some are preparing on the Upper West Side.

"It's definitely a time of reflecting on what have I done in the past," resident Ethan Cramer said.

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Cramer has been reflecting for the last 40 days leading up to the start of Yom Kippur.

"What do I wanna be as far as observances and what do I want to potentially take on this year," Cramer said.

He and thousands of Jews across the world have been reading "The 40-Day Challenge," a book of daily short tales authored by Mark Wildes, a rabbi on the Upper West Side.

"And then there's a question, there's just a challenge question, to sort of personalize the teaching so that it can sort of serve as a diary, a spiritual diary leading up to the high holidays," Wildes said.

It incorporates stories of people like football star Tom Brady and his work ethic, President Abraham Lincoln's philosophy on anger, and violinist Yitzhak Perlman, who once lost a string in the middle of a concert and kept playing.

"He said, 'Our task is to make music with what remains,' and I think that's such a great lesson for life because we're always complaining, 'If only I had this, then I'd be happy,'" Wildes said.

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During Yom Kippur, Jews fast and ask God for forgiveness. It's a day of second chances. Families have a big meal before sundown Wednesday to prepare.

Shlomo Klein, co-founder of Fleishigs magazine, said a traditional pre-fast meal includes stuffed cabbage, which is also on the magazine's new recipe app.

"The dough or the cabbage represents more, in this case, kindness, and we're basically wrapping the meat, which is the severity with something kind or neutral, if you want to call it, because we're basically, it's a time of judgment. We want our judgment to go favorably," Klein said.

And for the breaking of the fast at nightfall Thursday?

"It's very traditional to eat bagels, bagels and lox and cream cheese is like, just like you got to have that schmear," Klein said.

At the Lincoln Square Synagogues, one of the most sacred prayers of the holiday will be held outside and open to the public.

"Someone suggested, said remember the community is not ready to come to services and asked if we could do outdoor yizkor," Rabbi Shaul Robinson said. "We actually recite prayers to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. We recite prayers on behalf of those who fell in service of this country."

That's a prayer to remember those who have passed away.

Cantor Yaakov Lemmer will lead the solemn prayer on the sidewalk, or, if it rains, under the scaffolding on Amsterdam Avenue.

The rabbi said the healthiest thing one can do is confess, make good with the people in life one has wronged, and ask for second chances.

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