The final month of the Jewish year – the month of Elul, which directly precedes Rosh Hashanah – is intended to usher in a period of deep self-examination … the kind of self-proving that is best achieved when we can strip away some of the obligations that blur our vision of the ”bigger picture” in our lives.  We are taught that the High Holy Days can be truly efficacious only when we have thoroughly prepared for them by peering intently and honestly into our souls.  The final days of Elul are our last chance to prepare. Jewish tradition holds that, on the High Holy Days, one atones for sins committed against God.  However, for wrongs committed against one’s neighbor, one’s co-worker, one’s parent, one’s children, one’s spouse … one must seek forgiveness directly from the offended.  Many Jews devote the month of Elul to taking this practice seriously, seeking, through introspection, conversation, and correspondence, to make amends.  Elul provides us with the opportunity to think about the previous year and make plans for what we would like to do differently, to look at where we have lost track of ourselves over the past year, and to reset our course. On the Saturday evening prior to Rosh Hashanah, our congregation gathers together for a special S’lichot program and prayer service; taking place at 7:30 p.m.  It is an evening of learning, prayer, reflection and return.  We prepare not only ourselves for the serious work of the High Holy Days, but also our Torah Scrolls, as they are taken from the ark and dressed in the white mantels specific to the Days of Awe.

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