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Days of awe-some! P’Slope rabbi hopes to make high holy days hip

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The high holy days are going hipster.

Rabbi Dan Ain is ringing in the Jewish New Year with a set of music-infused services at the Boerum Hill event space Roulette that he hopes will attract young Jews who have been losing their religion.

“A lot of people in my age bracket and younger have given up on religion,” said Ain, who is 37. “They think of it as something for their parents.”

Ain wants to change their minds with services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that he hopes will bring a contemporary understanding to holy day traditions.

“We’re trying to capture the best of what Judaism has to offer,” he said. That includes a community of people to gather with and a chance to start fresh in the new year, he explained.

The services will also include musical accompaniment from Jeremiah Lockwood, a cantor and guitarist who fuses Jewish prayers with his other passion — the blues.

“The aim is to reconcile a tradition that is very old with something that’s more of the moment,” said Lockwood, who fronts local outfit Sway Machinery.

Rabbi Ain works for the 92nd Street Y, a Jewish cultural center on the distant island of Manhattan, but lives in Park Slope. He has been running services in Brooklyn for the last year-and-a-half because he believes that many young people here don’t identify with local congregations.

“A lot of the people I’m reaching haven’t connected with the synagogues here in Brooklyn, in spite of all the good work they do,” Ain said. “People just aren’t finding expressions of their own lives.”

One of the issues Ain identifies is isolation, which he says persists in spite of the preponderance of social connections people are making through the internet. And that is a problem that holy day gatherings can help address, he said.

“People are not sharing their experiences and emotions with their neighbors,” said Ain. “In a lot of ways the high holy days are an excuse for people to get together.”

92Y’s High Holy Days in Brooklyn at Roulette [509 Atlantic Ave. between Third Avenue and Nevins Street in Boerum Hill, (212) 415–5500, www.92y.org/holydays]. Sept. 25 from 10 am–1:30 pm, Oct. 3 from 7 pm–9 pm, Oct. 4 from 10 am–1 pm. $50 each event, or $135 for all three.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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