Elul: Preparing for the High Holy Days by Rabbi Asher Knight

The month of Elul – August 12-September 9 – is our prelude for the Days of Awe. The name of the Hebrew month, spelled aleph, lamed, vuv, lamed, has been understood by our sages as an acronym for the verse: “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li – I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.” Like dancing with a loved one, Elul calls upon us to be partners with God. As dancers, we focus on how we are moving, swaying (sometimes limping) with the rhythm and beat of life.

Elul prepares us for the spiritual work during the High Holy Days. On each day of the month, we are supposed to sound the shofar. The shofar is a wakeup call to embrace the light in the dark, the complexities and contradictions, the energy and exhaustion of living. Indeed, the month of Elul is about meeting life head on. Elul prods us: everything is as it is meant to be, but your life, relationships, and sense of place in the world can be more, too. Elul asks each of us to consider how we want to live in the coming year.

Beginning on August 12, our community will explore important themes and ideas of the High Holy Days. We encourage you to read blogs written by members of our community that will be shared. Reading their stories will help you discover truths about yourself. On each Shabbat, Temple’s clergy will share reflections and study, as we join in music that will awaken and lift us.

Join us for our annual Wildacres Retreat, sign your children up for Shir Kids High Holy Day Choir, or participate in our new Shofar Choir. There are many learning and prayer opportunities throughout the month of Elul to guide you through this sacred season.

Elul 1: Self and Community (August 12-18)  Each of us grapple with the tensions between self and community, feelings of loneliness, love, and support. What does a community look when it’s at its best? Where have we found or created community for ourselves? Rabbi Knight will explore these themes on Friday night, August 17.

Elul 2: Responsibility and Accountability (August 19-25)  Each of us balance responsibility for others with responsibility for ourselves. For whom do you feel responsible or accountable? For whom are you responsible or accountable? When have you had to let go of a responsibility, and what helped you find peace with your decision? Cantor Thomas will explore these themes on Friday night, August 24.

  • Open High Holy Day Choir Rehearsal  Tuesday, August 21, 7:00-9:00 pm.  Congregants are invited to observe our dedicated High Holy Day Choir as they rehearse. Cantor Thomas will answer your questions about High Holy Day prayers and music and point out special features of our sacred musical tradition.

Elul 3: Fear and Courage (August 26-September 1)  Each of us has had times where fear can hold us back or motivate us forward. When have you had the courage to say no (or yes!)? When have you acted out of fear? What would acting with courage look like? Rabbi Klass will explore these themes on Friday night, August 31.

Elul 4: Trust and Faith (September 2-8)  Each of us balance trust and faith. What does faith mean to you? When has having trust in another required you to be vulnerable? What is the relationship between trust and vulnerability? Rabbi Knight will explore these themes on Friday night, September 7.

  • Mikveh and Mingle  Wednesday, September 5, 6:00-8:00 pm. (RSVP Required) Throughout Elul, we reflect on the past year and prepare ourselves – body and soul – to enter the coming year. Immersing in the mikveh offers us an opportunity to spiritually and ritually cleanse ourselves in the final days before Rosh HaShanah. Join Rabbi Klass and Candace Naliboff for this time to schmooze with friends and reconnect with yourself. Email or call the temple office for more information.

Join us during Elul as we prepare for the new Jewish year.

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