Elul, the final month of the Hebrew calendar year, connects the past year with the coming year—a time when we reflect on where we stand and where we should be going. Following the months of Tammuz and Av which have much grieving and remembrance of tragedies, it is in this month that we begin the teshuvah process. We return to the source by examining our wrongdoing and asking for forgiveness. Self-examination during this gentle entry month allows for deepening into the more intense Days of Awe.
In Hebrew he four letters of the name ELUL/אלול are an acronym for the phrase in “Song of Songs” (6:3): “I am to my beloved and my beloved is mine.” In line with the Song of Songs, the Divine is compared to a Ruler who departs the royal palace and comes into the field in order to meet with the people, listen to their hearts, and answer their petitions. It is a reminder that this is a time of G!d’s mercy, when the Source is believed to be more approachable and accessible.
There are a number of practices during the month of Elul that are traditionally done to help us prepare for the upcoming High Holy Days. One is blowing or listening to the shofar daily (except Shabbat), as a literal wake up call. A second is the daily recitation of Psalm 27. There are also special prayers and many people engage in meditation and self-examination throughout the month. Along these lines, the Jewish Institute for Spirituality has a four week intensive program. Finally, during the last Shabbat of Elul before Rosh HaShanah we join together for Selichot Services. This year Bonai Shalom and Nevei Kodesh will be having a joint evening.
Nevei Kodesh has several special programs during the month of Elul to specifically dive deeper:
Coming Home to Ourselves: New Moon of Elul Retreat with Rabbi Tirzah Firestone,
Saturday, Aug 22, 1:00 – 4:00 pm (Click below for more info on special retreat)
Cost: $36 for Nevei Kodesh Members | $72 for Guests
Elul and Tishrei Prayer Intensive: 60 Days of Prayerful Renewal led by Rabbi Diane Tiferet Lakein
Wednesday evenings, 6:00 -7:00 pm OR Thursdays noon-1:00 pm
Weeks of Aug 19/20 through Oct 14/15.
This course will provide an opportunity to wrestle with some of the traditional prayers of confession which might, at times, challenge us, while also make space for our own creative reformulations of the practices of forgiveness and repentance handed down through the generations. We will also strive to build a sacred container within the group to ground the many experiences of the holiday cycle of Tishrei – taking time together to marinate in, and integrate, our experiences through services and other offerings in the wider community during this heady month of celebration and returning to Source.