Shalom, Friends! We are in the month of Elul and the High Holidays will soon be upon us. This will be my first set of these holidays with you and I am eagerly looking forward to sharing them with you. Our services will be essentially similar to previous years, although every leader brings his/her own special touches. I may teach a couple of new melodies, but primarily we will be singing the traditional ones which we have always sung.
Many of you will be seeing people you haven’t seen in awhile, and you will spend special time with family and friends. You will share the tastes and smells and sounds and rituals of the holidays, and the feeling of being home, whether you are in the synagogue or literally at home. The following words of a song by Shlomo Carlebach come to mind:
“Return again to the home of your soul.
Return to who you are, return to what you are,
Return to where you are born and renewed again.”
These few lines summarize the driving force behind what is bringing us back to the high holidays. We want to return -– it is a natural instinct. We want to come home and to start anew together, as a community.
I’m excited to teach you this song and we will sing it together at our Selichot service on Saturday evening, September 24. This promises to be a beautiful evening of wine and cheese, of dedicating the new menorah donated by our dear Isaac Shina, and including a short service of prayers, which you know from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to get us ready for the High Holy Days.
One of the themes of the season is atonement, and the recipe for atonement is very simple. It has not changed in 2000 years. Take a liberal dose of prayer, add full-hearted remorse, the charitable giving of tzedakah, and loving acts of kindness toward others. Sounds easy, yet we know how difficult it is to accomplish. We are motivated by the feeling that a new year brings hope for the future – for us, our families, and Beth Samuel Jewish Center. May we sing together with a full heart, and may you all be inscribed for a year of good health and happiness. Shana tova tikateivu.
Until next time, l’hitra’ot!