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Yom Kippur is a time of contemplation, prayer

September 24, 2009|By Anita Susan Brenner

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, begins at sundown on Sept. 27 and ends at nightfall on Sept. 28. For observant Jews, it is a time to fast, contemplate and pray.

The Bernhard family of La Cañada Flintridge is in the midst of preparations.

“Our family’s Yom Kippur observance starts with an early dinner just for our family, one that will hold us through the 25-hour fast we try to observe,” said Amy Bernhard. “Our daughter Talia, 13, an eighth-grader at LCHS, is now considered an adult in the Jewish community, so she’s supposed to fulfill the same obligations as an adult.”

Mica, 11, is not required to fast. Eldest sister, Adrienne, 25, lives in New York.

After an early dinner on Sunday night, Mark and Amy Bernhard, and their two children will attend evening service at Adat Ari El synagogue in Valley Village. The service will begin with the “Kol Nidre” prayer recited in Aramaic.

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Yom Kippur is a time for contemplation.

“Having just escaped potential disaster with the Station fire while witnessing the incredible skill and sacrifices of the firefighters and other emergency personnel, I’m more aware of how fortunate our family and our community is,” Amy said. “Although I’m very involved in the educational welfare of our kids here in La Cañada, this experience compels me to think about reaching outside La Cañada.”

The Bernhards will return to the synagogue on Monday morning.

“Talia and Mica are not are not happy about missing school, but they’re not given a choice about it,” said Amy.

After sundown on Monday night, the Bernhards will host a “break-the-fast” dinner with friends and family. “It’s my favorite meal of all the Jewish holidays!” exclaimed Amy . “Bagels and lox, tuna, egg salad — I could eat it every day.”

This year, the recent loss of firefighters Arnie Quinones, 34, and Capt. Ted Hall, 47, during

the Station fire has made an impact. LCHS eighth grade history teacher Janis Fuhrman said that the Station fire puts Yom Kippur “into clear focus. People — not things — are important. We must live each day fully holding on tightly to those we love.”

Fuhrman has a sign in her classroom that reads: “The children in my classroom are infinitely more important that the subject matter I teach.”

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