Today is the first day (of two days) of Rosh Chodesh Elul, (which actually falls on the last day of the month of Av).
Elul is called chodesh hacheshbon, “a month of accounting,” as it comes at the end of the spiritual fiscal year. It’s also considered the month of preparation for the new spiritual year that begins with Rosh Hashana. The two themes of Elul – accounting and preparation – are interdependent, because how we account for the past is how we prepare for the future.
In Elul [the word in Aramaic means “searching” we examine the mistakes of the past year in order not to repeat them. In particular, this means taking an honest look at what is trapping us and preventing us from truly moving forward.
Obviously, fundamental changes do not happen instantly. But self-transformation is possible, and it is possible to the extent that we want it, that we examine ourselves and identify issues that need work, and that we invest ourselves in that goal.
TWO OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP YOU PREPARE
The Maharal of Prague taught that “All the month of Elul, before eating and sleeping, a person should look into their soul and search their deeds,” in order to repair the wrongs they have done. Elul brings the opportunity to begin that work with reflection and intention. We invite you to join with others on this journey of preparation.
We will be using the Book/App OPENING YOUR HEART WITH PSALM 27: A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE FOR THE JEWISH NEW YEAR which you can find here.
You can purchase a hard copy of the book, download the app or purchase it as an e-book.
We highly recommend that you try the App. It is available at the Apple Store and on Google Play. It comes with tools to enrich the experience. Each day presents a phrase from Psalm 27, a reflection for focus, and an opportunity to write and sit quietly. The app includes all the essentials: spoken versions of the psalm, daily reminders, writing prompts, and a meditation timer. Accompanied by photographs and musical settings of the text by contemporary musicians and cantors, the Psalm 27 app will inspire and empower you to experience the High Holy Day season with intention and an open heart.
Each week we will work on our preparation as individuals and for those who choose we will also have the opportunity to gather with others for reflection on Zoom once a week on Sunday mornings, August 15, 22, 29 and September 5 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. Each week members of the Temple Shaari Emeth and Temple Shalom Clergy will lead the discussion. Rabbi Melinda Panken, Cantor Wally Shachet Briskin, Rabbi Larry Malinger and Cantor Sarah Zemel will lead an informal reflection on what you found challenging or inspiring from your preparation that week. You may join us for however many sessions you would like.
Register for the Zoom link here After you register for the Zoom link, make sure to check your e-mail for a dedicated link that will be found in your registration confirmation e-mail.
We look forward to journeying towards the Holy Days together and we wish you a meaningful and rich Elul.
– – –
For several years, a group of Reform clergy and educators has collaborated on a series of Elul Thoughts, shared with our congregations in a daily email.
It is with great honor and wonderful blessing that we once again bring Elul Thoughts to our congregations across the United States and Canada this year. We have been sending Elul Thoughts to our congregations since 2008. Every year we invite cantors, rabbis, and educators. Some years we invite congregants or teachers from other areas of expertise. This year a wide swath of invitations were sent, but only rabbis responded. So for the first time in many years we are able to present an all-rabbi Elul Thoughts for you.
This year’s Elul Thoughts include contributions from:
Rabbi Michael Birnholz, Temple Beth Shalom, Vero Beach, FL
Rabbi Erin Boxt, Temple Beth El, Knoxville, TN
Rabbi Alan Cook, Sinai Temple, Champaign, IL
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, TX
Rabbi Ben David, Adath Emanu-El, Mt. Laurel, NJ
Rabbi Daniel Fink, Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, Boise, ID
Rabbi Cassi Kail, Temple Beth El, San Pedro, CA
Rabbi Neal Katz, Congregation Beth El, Tyler, TX
Rabbi Brad Levenberg, Temple Sinai, Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Eric Linder, Congregation Children of Israel, Athens, GA
Rabbi Alan E. Litwak, Temple Sinai, North Miami Beach, FL
Rabbi Laurence Malinger, Temple Shalom, Aberdeen, NJ
Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld, Congregation Albert, Albuquerque, NM (ret)
Rabbi Andrew Rosenkranz, Temple Beth Torah, Wellington, FL
Rabbi Benjamin Sharff, The Reform Temple of Rockland, Upper Nyack, NY
Rabbi Simone Schicker, Temple B’nai Israel, Kalamazoo, MI
Rabbi Stephen Wise, Shaarei-Beth El Congregation, Oakville, ON, Canada
Rabbi David N. Young, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA
You can follow any of us on Facebook or Twitter. They will be posted each night at 6 pm preceding the Hebrew day on the Temple Shalom Facebook Page beginning tonight at 6 pm. If you miss any of the daily emails or want to refer back to a past Elul, you can view them all here.