Why Sir Laurence and Neil Diamond make me cry every Yom Kippur

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I’m not a high holidays Jew— the kind who pretty much ignores their faith until Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and then scrambles to buy overpriced seats at the local synagogue. I confess that I’ve done plays on Rosh HaShanah, I’ve played field hockey on Yom Kippur; however, that doesn’t mean I believe in those holidays any less… I just elect to “pray” in my own way. I read, I think, I meditate…and I watch the films which, to me, emblemize the day. Every July 4th, I watch 1776 and every Yom Kippur I watch The Jazz Singer (the remake). And when Laurence Olivier calls out “Yussel” at the end of the film, I always bawl. Because it sums up what this holiday is about: forgiveness, redemption, starting over. In the film, the father and son have been estranged ever since Neil Diamond’s Yussel fell in love with Lucy Arnaz’s shiksa Molly. The reunion, on Yom Kippur- the day of atonement, the day of forgiveness, best sums up what this important Jewish holiday is about. If you can’t make it to synagogue tonight, watch the video of Neil Diamond singing Kol Nidre in a beautiful voice which is charged with emotional undertones.

And try to forgive someone.

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