Rabbi Ora on Elul and Elul Playlist

This year, the Hebrew month of Elul begins September 1 — a nice coinciding of the secular and Jewish calendars. I think of Elul as a kind of pumping-the-brakes on the freewheeling expansiveness of summer; even though it’s usually still warm outside, Elul is a whispered reminder: Fall is coming. Slow down. Get a little quieter. And begin turning inwards. 

Why? Because there is work to be done.

It’s tradition to dedicate the 29 days of Elul to reflection, study, and preparation for the coming Days of Awe. Elul challenges us to use each day to re-connect with our values and attune to the yearning of our souls.

Conceptually, the idea is noble, but acting on it is a bit more challenging. Here are a few resources to help you get started: 

Learn more about Elul from Rabbi Yael Ridberg at Reconstructing Judaism

Psalm 27 (“Achat Sha’alti”) is traditionally recited every morning in Elul. Here’s Rabbi Brant Rosen’s interpretation of Psalm 27 

Listen to a special episode from the Judaism Unbound podcast, Unbounding Elul

Here’s a simple calendar that helps you set a single intention for Elul and track it throughout the month

Thinking ahead? Sign up now to receive a daily email prompt for reflection during the 10 days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur

Is your favorite part of the High Holy Days the music? Here are 2 new niggunim we’ll be using this year – you can get a head start on learning them by clicking the links below:

Micah Shapiro’s Hashiveini

The Klezmatic’s interpretation of Shnirele Perele

Selichot 2018, Sept 1

Even the days of ‎Selichot before Rosh HaShanah are not days of judgment – just the opposite, they are days of ‎mercy and desire, the last set of forty days when Moshe Rabbeinu was on the mountain and the ‎Holy One showed him favour. It is only on Rosh HaShanah that the judgment begins… Moreover, ‎the Ten Days of Repentance are not called “days of judgment”. Just the opposite, they are days of ‎mercy, during which Hashem avails Godself to every individual. Only Rosh HaShanah and Yom ‎Kippur are “days of judgment”…Nodah B’Yehuda I Orach Chaim 32:3

The Jewish calendar gives us many opportunities to get ready for the new year. Reciting Psalm 27, a declaration of faith, each day of Elul is one practice. Another practice is reciting special prayers on the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashana, known as Selichot.

If Rosh Hashana feels like it’s fast approaching and you’d like to slow down and begin turning towards the new year, come to AARC’s second annual Selichot Service on Saturday September 1; we’ll celebrate Havdallah together and then learn some new tunes to carry us into the High Holiday season.

Selichot Service  Saturday, September 1
8pm
each bring a candle (we’ll have extras if you forget)
 Touchstone Common House
(yellow building at the front right behind the Touchstone sign)
 560 Little Lake Drive (off Jackson Rd between Wagner and Zeeb)
please park on the street
The full schedule of AARC High Holiday services is here.

About our Selichot Prayer Service, Sat Sept 16

by Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner

The practice of Selichot goes back at least 2,000 years, and may be even older: Legend has it that when King David realized the Jerusalem Temple would eventually be destroyed, he begged God to tell him how the Jewish people would be able to connect with God while in exile. God told King David that the people could recite ‘selichot’–penitential prayers–to bring them closer to God, and that they should include a recitation of the “Thirteen Attributes of God,” a passage from Exodus evoking God’s compassionate nature–and one that we now recite throughout Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur: “Adonai! Adonai! A God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, rich in steadfast kindness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He does not remit all punishment…”

As Jewish tradition evolved, it became customary to recite Selichot prayers in the days and weeks leading up to Rosh haShana. In Eastern Europe, Selichot were originally recited early in the morning, prior to dawn. There was a custom in Eastern Europe that the person in charge of prayers would make the rounds of the village, knocking three times on each door and saying, “Israel, holy people, awake, arouse yourselves and rise for the service of the Creator!” It later became common practice to hold the first Selichot service–considered the most important–at a time more convenient for the masses. Therefore, the Selichot service was moved to Saturday night.

For our own Selichot service this Saturday night, we’ll end Shabbat together with Havdallah, and then learn a few soulful niggunim – wordless melodies – that will form an aural backdrop to our Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur services. If you’d like to get a head-start on learning these melodies, or if you’re not able to make it to Selichot, here are 2 of the tunes we’ll be learning: Joey Weisenberg’s Shochein Ad and Nishmat Kol Chai.

Selichot Prayer Service
 Saturday, September 16
8pm
each bring a candle (we’ll have extras if you forget)
 Touchstone Common House
(yellow building at the front right behind the Touchstone sign)
 560 Little Lake Drive (off Jackson Rd between Wagner and Zeeb)

please park on the street