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Creative Kol Nidre

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2007-09-19

Jon Voight

Jon Voight

Ever wondered what Hollywood's Jewish population gets up to on Kol Nidre? They go to the Creative Arts Temple in Los Angeles – and now the service is available on a free DVD. SJ's Caroline Westbrook offers her verdict, and explains what non-Jewish actor Jon Voight is doing there.

Ever wondered what Hollywood's Jewish population gets up to on Kol Nidre? Just the same as everybody else, it would appear – only  they do it at the Creative Arts Temple in Los Angeles. A DVD of the synagogue's Kol Nidre service is now available free on request from the Temple, and gives an eye-opening insight into religion, Hollywood style.

The star-studded service features most of the traditional Yom Kippur prayers, along with guest appearances from such familiar faces as Ben Stiller's parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. Actor Jon Voight also addresses the congregation – although Voight himself is not Jewish, he is friends with the Temple's Rabbi, Jerry Cutler, and was invited to speak to the community.

"I am and I always have been in total awe of the Jewish people," he says. "They are the conscience of the world. They hold the greatest gift to man – the Torah."

Meanwhile, Jerry Stiller reminds the congregation that Yom Kippur is "the season of self-forgiveness. Our harshest judge is neither parent nor friend," he says. "It is the permanent tribunal of our own conscience."

This service is considerably different from anything you might find at your average synagogue on Yom Kippur. Conducted in a mix of Hebrew and English, it features contributions from a choir as well as words of wisdom from many members of the congregation  - while visuals are projected on to a screen above the Ark. And it's fascinating to watch.

It might be a bit different from what you've become accustomed to on the Day Of Atonement, but it's compelling stuff, not only for the beautiful service but also to see famous faces taken out of the celebrity arena and acting just like normal people.

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