As Yom Kippur starts, a new Rabbi leads services at Temple B’nai Shalom

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Jewish people around the world and in North Alabama are celebrating the start of a new year.

The holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, began Tuesday at 6:49 p.m. The solemn holiday is one of reflection and forgiveness involving 25 hours of fasting.

This year, people at Temple B'nai Shalom in Huntsville have a new religious and community leader leading the holiday.

The sound of the shofar, signifying a new year on the Jewish calendar, has been in the synagogue of Temple B'nai Shalom in Huntsville for the past 10 days.

"It's to serve as a wake-up call. Because it's a very distinctive piercing sound," said temple member Jeff Lapidus.

The shofar, an ancient musical instrument typically made of a ram's horn, will sound a series of three calls for the last time in the year 5779 at the end of Yom Kippur services.

"During the service, the Rabbi will name the call and the shofar player, actually called a Ba'al Tekiah', will respond with those calls," said Lapidus.

This time will be a bit different for Lapidus who is the temple's Ba'al Tekiah', as with a new year, comes a new face to North Alabama.

"We're very happy to be here," said new Rabbi Eric Berk.

Berk has only been here a month but says he and his fiance are settling in quite well to the 120-year-old building and its congregation.

And the feeling seems to be mutual. "We've been absolutely thrilled with him. Rabbi Behar was great, Rabbi Berk brings a new fresh younger energy in and it's just a nice change."

His next task, performing the service for the holiest day of the Jewish year.

"I try to tailor my method to not only the mood of the holiday but also the world around us," Berk said.

While he continues to get to know the members of his own congregation and looks forward to its growth, he also hopes to form community-wide connections.

"I definitely foresee at least a tremendous effort, and I hope it's well received, to reach out to different faith organizations."

A hopeful start to his first year in North Alabama.

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