A large, open plaza across from Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street has made its encampment for three weeks, proved to be the perfect setting for Kol Nidre on Friday night.

Earlier in the week, Daniel Sieradski, Occupy Wall Street protester and self-styled “new media activist,” wondered on Facebook and Twitter whether he could get a minyan to show up for the service. As sundown approached on Friday, a crowd that some estimated to be as many as 700 people gathered on the plaza for the prayers that begin Yom Kippur. Similar services were held at Occupy Wall Street camps in Washington, Philadelphia and Boston.

Kol Nidre @ Occupy Wall St. from Jewish Forward on Vimeo.

In keeping with the style of the occupation in the park across the street, which does not have a sound system permit, announcements were shouted by a single speaker in short phrases, and each phrase was repeated back through the crowd so everyone could hear it. The entire service was led this way, including the sermon, written and shouted by my friend, Getzel Davis, a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston.

I think all sermons should be delivered this way for all eternity. There’s no better way to capture a crowd’s attention with a Yom Kippur sermon than to hear the message ripple back through the congregation in short bursts. The energy of the crowd was enhanced by the recurring call and response, and by being physically close to one another; once you were in the crowd, it was packed tight and there was no getting out.


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