It is hard to believe, but the season of preparation for the High Holidays is almost upon us. Starting on Saturday evening with Tisha b’Av, the observance of the date when the Temples were destroyed and Judaism as we knew it changed irrevocably, we launch ourselves into the frenzy of the fall. This preparatory season is an important piece of being able to access Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and feel like they’ve “worked” to lighten our spiritual load. With your permission, I will recap how we’re giving you access to this essential time this year at Sinai.
Tisha B’Av – We look around us on this hot summer day and realize that we have not actually been seeing the truth of what is happening to us. The walls of the Temple have come crumbling down, and with them, that safe and orderly structure we’ve depended on. We find ourselves vulnerable, faced with an uncertain future. We are hungry, half-starved in the siege, and wondering if we will ever be safe again. Come join us at 8:30 pm this Saturday evening at Temple Emanu-El as we grieve the losses of our people and try to accept the reality that our lives are not the way we think they are.
Elul – The month of Elul begins as the month of September begins, and by now we’ve realized that we have a lot of work to do before Rosh HaShanah. The melodies in our services are slowly changing, even though we aren’t ready yet to apologize. Our tradition tells us that we must make amends for any sins we’ve committed against our fellow human beings before Kol Nidrei is said at the very beginning of Yom Kippur. So we look inward, we recap our year, we reach for the people we’ve pushed away. To aid in this, we are offering a three-week course on Sundays during September (8, 15, 22 at 3 pm) called “Repairing the World from the Inside Out” during this time. Email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP. There is a one-time fee of $5 for materials, and please contact me or Rabbi Benjamin if the cost is a hardship.
Selichot – This year, thankfully, Selichot comes early, a full eight days before Rosh HaShanah. On Leil Selichot (in English, the “Night of Forgiveness”) we come together as a community in the darkness, we pull out all of our High Holiday melodies, rehearse our prayers for forgiveness. “One week left,” our tradition whispers to us, “start the new year without those burdens.” As part of our preparation that evening, we change yet another thing in our environment. Our Torahs get clean, white covers so that each time we pull them out, we are reminded again of what we are supposed to be doing – making our world better, making ourselves better, one apology at a time. Join us for our quiet, introspective, musical, Selichot service on September 21 at 8 pm.
These events are important liturgically and also serve to aid us in the spiritual work our tradition suggests to get the most out of the High Holiday season. We would love to see everyone take advantage of these offerings. As always, as this season of repentance begins, if you believe I have sinned against you and I do not seek you out myself before Selichot, please bring the issue to my attention. Let’s all go into 5780, this new decade, with lightened burdens, renewed friendship and goodwill, and communal joy.
Rabbi Sara Zober