September 9, 2011
Over the years, we've posted great resources for Elul, the Hebrew month leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. They range in tone, style, degree of spirituality... there's something for everyone.
For your convenience, a handy collection of articles and blog posts (with links to the article and excerpts) to help you prepare for the High Holy Days:
In order to have a meaningful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, start the month before and take your time to work on yourself.
Maybe imperfection loves company, but I suspect I'm not the only one whose Eluls are like the Jewish version of the movie Groundhog Day. Instead of an alarm clock ringing, the shofar blasts on the first morning of Elul, bidding me to wake up and face a familiar, inescapable list of failures, broken promises and unrealized goals. What happened to all that great spiritual growth I was supposed to achieve last year? At what point did I get off my shiny new path of self-improvement and slide back into the same narrow but comfortable rut? Why is this Elul no different than other Eluls?
Resources and guides? Sure, this blog post has them. But it's also full of Rosh Hashanah YouTube clips like Barbra Streisand singing "Avinu Malkeinu", Phish and Michelle Citrin.
There will be no excuse this year when I fail to buy myself new clothing or a white shirt for the holiday, no excuse for scrambling around like a maniac to arrange the holiday meals. Also, my husband (who reads this blog, right?) will remember to start practicing blowing the shofar starting on Sunday, the first day of Elul. Maybe.
Taking stock of personal memories, life journeys and choices, and 9/11 this time of year...
As I begin to prepare for the Days of Awe this year, I carry with me the memory of all the unjust deaths, and the surety of more to come. This is neither resignation nor depression, it's a reminder of what we have to fight for, the stake we have in family and community when we walk together away from our encounter with God.
In addition to personal reflection, we should also think more broadly. How to make the Jewish community more welcoming to interfaith families, something that is important to think about especially around the High Holidays.
But if we are honest with ourselves--and the holiday season dictates that we should be--we must admit that our efforts to make amends often stop short, unrealized. Those who need and deserve our rapprochement most are probably not even among the family invited to join us in the synagogue, or if they do join us, may be subjected to messages of unwelcome from the pulpit or the pew. Who are these people? They are the intermarried members of our families, countless individuals who were not born into Judaism but have cast their lots with our own. They are spiritual seekers like us, yearning for inspiration inherent in the ancient message of our tradition. Isn't there enough room in our synagogues--and in our hearts--to give them the opportunity to hear it too?
A Jew by Choice looks at the additional preparation she's needed each year before the High Holy Days.
And so, in a couple of weeks, I will probably be on my own at services again. But this time it will be different, because I know that now, instead of thinking that I am completely alone, I have truly become part of the family.
Resources to help you start preparing for the High Holy Days, through reflection, taking stock of your year and thinking towards next year.
There's a concept known as cheshbon ha'nefesh, an accounting of the soul, this time of year. ... The general idea behind the business/accounting metaphor is to show discipline in our spiritual lives. But... what does that actually mean? And how do we do it? Are there specific things we're supposed to reflect on? Are any topics off limits?
In short... it's up to you. Now, that can certainly be daunting. So I've compiled a few helpful websites that make reflecting in preparation for the Days of Awe interesting, accessible and innovative.