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CSI Children Discuss Forgiveness on Yom Kippur

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Children at the Congregation Sons of Israel discussed forgiveness this week in preparation for Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday that begins at sundown on Friday.

"Why am I fasting? What's my mood?" Roni Shapiro, CSI's educational director, asked a group of sixth graders on Wednesday. "Well I'm trying to get into a mood of thinking to ask for forgiveness from God, and not thinking about me, me, me."

Yom Kippur is a time when Jews ask for forgiveness from God for sins, and also for forgiveness from "anyone who you've messed with," Shapiro said.

Traditionally, Jews who are older than the Bar or Bat Mitzvah age fast for 25 hours during Yom Kippur, starting from sundown. The fast includes not drinking water, but if anyone needs to eat or drink on Yom Kippur for their health, they should do so, Shapiro said.

"You fast 24 hours to say you're sorry, and then an extra hour to say you're really sorry," Shapiro said.

As part of the theme of forgiveness, Shapiro said that in the Jewish faith, if someone truly asks for forgiveness three times, and by the third time the other person still doesn't forgive, then the sin goes to the other person.

Several sixth graders responded to that by thinking of worst case scenarios when forgiveness would be very difficult.

"What if somebody bombed a synagogue? Why should we forgive them?" asked Emily Westle.

Ross Lachtman asked, "What if you're in the Army? Would you ask for forgiveness for killing Osama Bin Laden?"

Ross Ginsberg asked if someone should be forgiven for doing something "really bad," like hurting a dog.

"Forgiveness is a really hard thing," Shapiro said. "We have a choice – Do you want to walk around and hate or do you want to find the good?"

Even in hard situations, Jews are supposed to forgive because that way Jews can always start over, Shapiro said.

"Everyone has some bad inside them. If you did something bad, wouldn't you want people to forgive you?" she said.

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