A nationally televised Yom Kippur service will be aired on the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, October 5, 2003 at 6:30 a.m. The program will focus on themes of forgiveness and reconciliation in troubled times.
Participants include Jason Alexander, Mary Hart, Leonard Maltin, Larry King, Arthur Hiller, Theodore Bikel, Maggie Lawson, and Jason Segel.
Viewers in more than 47 million homes in North America will be able to experience highlights of the Jewish High Holy Day service of Yom Kippur on TV in the comfort of their own homes this year. The half-hour program, "Yom Kippur: Prayers of Atonement," is being presented by Los Angeles-based Temple Of The Air (TOTA), an outreach service of Temple Shalom for the Arts, with support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
It will air at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 5 on the Hallmark Channel's Faith & Values TV and at additional times in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Hartford and Palm Springs.
The televised Yom Kippur service was an idea originally conceived to provide services on video to the house-bound, an audience estimated at nearly one million people.
"It is for anyone who cannot be in temple praying and asking for forgiveness," says Rabbi Baron of Temple Shalom for the Arts and founder of TOTA, "and for anyone who wants to share in our tradition and better understand this most holy of days for the Jewish people, the Day of Atonement."
The program features actor Jason Alexander, TV talk show host Larry King, "Entertainment Tonight's" Mary Hart and film critic Leonard Maltin, director Arthur Hiller ("Love Story," "Babe"), Maggie Lawson (ABC's "It's All Relative"), Jason Segel ("Freaks and Geeks") along with stage and screen star Theodore Bikel, actor Curt Lowens and the powerful voice of the late Nell Carter in song and prayer.
The half-hour program offers special prayers of remembrance for the victims of homicide bombings in Israel and the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. It is in English, with Hebrew prayers and chants and features the extraordinary voices of cantors Ilysia Pierce, who performed in Broadway's "Beauty and the Beast," and Barry Gordon, actor, Broadway musical star and former SAG president.
It also includes a historical look at Yom Kippur from Bram Roos, producer of A&E's "Mysteries of the Bible," and segments shot on location in Jerusalem at the Western Wall, the most holy site in Judaism. The rabbi offers a memorial service at the Wall, where thousands of people come to pray every day.
"We know this service touched a chord with viewers, because last year the ratings were three times as high as normal for the time slot," Rabbi Baron says.
In addition to the broadcast, 300 copies of "Yom Kippur: Prayers Of Atonement" are being distributed this year to hospitals, homes for the aging and convalescent facilities.
"The many residents of homes and hospitals who cannot leave their rooms will receive these services at their bedside via television," says Monty Hall, temple member and founder and president of the Monty and Marilyn Hall Statesman's Club of the Jewish Home for the Aging, with facilities nationwide.
Although the video is intended primarily for Jews who can't be in a temple, it has also been embraced by non-Jews who might not otherwise have a chance to see what happens inside a synagogue.
"While there are numerous church productions on TV, there are no temples sharing their services with those unable to attend," says Rabbi Baron. "For the Christian viewer, this program will give them added insight into Jewish practices."
"We believe many people will enjoy the experience of watching a moving Yom Kippur service at home which incorporates history, tradition, music, poetry, art, readings and celebrity participants."
The services are also being broadcast in New York on WMBC Channel 63 at 3 p.m Sunday October 5; in Miami on KPAX Channel 35 Sunday at 2 p.m.; in Los Angeles on Adelphia Cable Channels 10 and 20 at 6 p.m Sunday and 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday October 6.
The program will also be available Sunday in Boston, 1 p.m. Channel 56, Detroit 1 p.m. Channel 18, Cleveland 1 p.m. Channel 21, Washington, D.C. 1 p.m. Channel 77, Hartford, Connecticut 1 p.m. Channel 51, Minneapolis 12 p.m. Channel 97, Palm Springs 10 a.m. Channel 76 and Milwaukee 12 p.m. Channel 95.
Copies of the program are also available through the Temple of the Air website, www.tota.tv.