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Open-Door Synagogue Welcomes All in Pleasantville

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – One of the largest temples in the Westchester area, the Pleasantville Community Synagogue brings in members from all over the county and of all different backgrounds.

“We have members that come to our services every week, we have some that only come during the high holidays, and then also some that did not even grow up Jewish,” Pleasantville Community Synagogue Rabbi Mark Sameth said.  “In total, we have members from 20 towns and villages in Westchester and some that come from as far as Connecticut.”

Sameth said the reason behind the diversified member group is an open-door policy that the synagogue holds.  The temple is widely accepting of new members, some of which may practice another religion.  Each Sunday, the synagogue holds a two hour course titled “Introduction to Judaism,” which is for non-practicing members to learn more about the religion.

Sameth said it’s important to accept all members that reach out to the synagogue, despite religious background.

“No matter what religion you practice, people need a sense of community,” Sameth said.  “You can meet people here that you otherwise would have never met before and you develop relationships, and that’s all good.”

Perry Yeldman, of Ossining, was raised Christian but has attended about six services at the synagogue with his girlfriend who is Jewish.  Yeldham said he had an interest to learn more about the spirituality of the religion and enjoyed the company given by the synagogue.

“I think there’s a lot underneath the whole religion and the need that people have to believe in a higher power and that’s interesting to me,” Yeldham said.  “I really like the people here and they and Rabbi Mark have been great in welcoming me as an outsider.”

Yeldham attends the synagogue’s “Introduction to Judaism” course and said due to his experiences that he plans to become more involved in the religion in the future.

Sameth joked that Yeldham is a part of a growing community, especially at the Pleasantville Community Synagogue, made up of Jews and non-Jews.

“There’s a lot of people out there that aren’t really Jewish but they hold some ties somehow, so they’re just a little Jewish-ish,” Sameth said.

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