ELUL Workshop

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Date(s) - September 03 2014
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Congregation Bonai Shalom

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As the last month of the Jewish year, Elul is traditionally a time of introspection and stocktaking—a time to review one’s deeds and spiritual progress over the past year, and prepare for the upcoming “Days of Awe”, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The letters of Elul form an acronym for the words in the verse Ani le‑dodi ve‑dodi li–“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3). Believing that the “beloved” refers to God, the sages take this verse to describe the particularly loving and close relationship with God and this month.

Thus, Elul is the month of soul-accounting and a time for making peace with the three “garments” of the soul – thought, speech and action. It’s also a time for getting clear with ourselves, our close relations, and our community at large, knowing where we’ve missed the mark and asking for forgiveness.

Join Rabbi Marc Soloway Wednesday Sept. 3rd, 7 – 9pm for ELUL Workshop.

HEAR THE SHOFAR.The following are some of the basic customs and practices for the month of Elul:

Beginning with the first day of Elul, until (but not including) the morning before Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to blow the shofar (ram’s horn) after the week-day morning prayer. The call of the shofar stirs the heart. Its daily blasts proclaim: “Awaken, you slumberers! Examine your actions and repent.”


From the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul until and including Hoshanna Rabba, we recite twice daily Psalm 27. This custom is based on the Midrashic comment, “the L-rd is my light…” on Rosh Hashanah, “…my salvation…” on Yom Kippur, “…He will hide me in His tent” on Sukkot. Chassidim and Sephardim include it in the Morning and Afternoon prayers; the Lithuanian custom is to say it during the Morning and Evening prayers.


The Sephardic tradition is to begin reciting selichot immediately after Rosh Chodesh Elul. The Ashkenazi custom is to recite selichot beginning with the Saturday night of the week in which Rosh Hashanah falls, provided that four days are left before Rosh Hashanah. Therefore, if Rosh Hashanah falls either on Monday or Tuesday of the week, the recitation of selichot is begun the Saturday night of the week preceding.


During Elul, charity is given liberally, since the merit of charity is a shield against evil decrees and prolongs life. It casts a mantle of protection not only over the giver but over the whole Jewish people. When a person transcends his natural instinct and gives when not beholden, G-d in turn grants him more than he would otherwise be worthy of receiving.

Elul is a good time to have one’s tefillin and mezuzot checked by an accredited scribe, to ensure that they are in good condition and fit for use.

When writing a letter or meeting one another, we bless one another by including the greeting Ketivah vachatimah tovah—which roughly translates as “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”