The coming month can be elul-sive

Oh, summer. I have been spending time at beaches, hikes, festivals, concerts, playgrounds, splash pads, cottages, and beyond. Our summers are so very short and I really try to make the most of mine. Do you have goals yet to be achieved on your summer bucket list? There’s still time to squeeze in that play in the park or that baseball game or that walk to the good ice cream place. Do it!

Of course, as a rabbi and a teacher and a mother, September looms. I know most of the world considers January the start of the new year, but for me it is September. As school starts up and the weather cools off and the days get shorter, I start settling into a routine and get out my good old goal setting pages. Every year I reflect on the year that past and set goals for the future. Does this sound like the work of Rosh Hashanah? It is! But the party/process really starts the month before — in the Jewish month of Elul.

Elul is the final month of the Jewish year. It is meant to be a time for study and reflection, so that we are ready for the Days of Awe... the Jewish High Holidays that prime us for a year of spiritual satisfaction.

Elul doesn’t start until just over a week from now, but I want you to start thinking about September/Elul (they match up almost exactly this time) as your period of getting primed. Maybe look up the weekly Torah portion and read around it. Maybe take a class on Jewish history — there are many online options, including those that are free of charge. Perhaps you’d like to get yourself primed in a different way and do some volunteer work. Or clean up your local park or beach. Or send a letter to a friend with whom you’ve been out of touch. We don’t have to save our apologizing, making amends, and good-deed-doing until the High Holidays hit.

The goal of Elul is to get your head and heart right for the High Holidays. What will you do so that you can feel empowered, enlightened, and enlivened when I see you at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?

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What to do between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?

 

Here we are! The Days of Awe, as they are known. I hope you are having a wonderful and meaningful Rosh Hashanah!

The Jewish New Year offers so many opportunities for reflection, growth, and betterment. I love the fresh-start-feeling I get at this time of year! Here are a few things you can do to set yourself up for a great year!

 Purge, clear, clean

Do you notice when you have a clean and clear space it makes for a clean and clear headspace? Take the time to do a little fall fix up of your home. This will also come in handy if you're having guests over!

Do you 10Q?

I love this website that sends you a question to answer each day of the High Holiday period and then sends you back your answers the following year! Check it out here.
Set some goals Set aside some time to write down some things you’re happy about from the last year, some things you’d like to change for this year, and some things that would make this the best time ever.

Make amends

Many Jews use this time of the year to ask for forgiveness. Write that letter/email or, better yet, make that phone call. Reach out and see if you can mend an old wound or reconnect with someone.
Get Outside!I always practice tashlich, casting away, on Rosh Hashanah. Visit a natural body of water and use something to symbolically cast away that which is no longer serving you. Note: the tradition is breadcrumbs but there are ecological concerns with that and so I've begun using sticks and leaves and pebbles I find near the river. Being in nature grounds us, connects us with the world, and is the perfect place to be inspired.

Focus on what matters

Did you get to spend Rosh Hashanah with family or friends? Did you taste the sweetness of apples with honey and/or pomegranates? Did you get to mark the holiday meaningfully? If so, you’re pretty lucky. Remind yourself to be grateful for all the good in your life.

Shana Tova!

Rabbi Denise

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