Elul 5777

Hodesh tov! Welcome to Elul, the month leading into Rosh Hashana, throughout which we focus on rupture and repair, and trust and reconciliation.  The word “Elul” is similar to the root of the verb “search” in Aramaic. The Talmud writes that the Hebrew word “Elul” can be understood to be an acronym for the phrase “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3). Elul is seen as a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgement, Rosh Hashanah, and Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.

One of the community’s favorite melodies: Keter Melucha, recorded by Aryeh Bernstein and Joey Weisenberg. The words are at the end of this email if you’d like to sing along. Please listen to the song to get in the spirit, and to be ready to sing along with the community. You can click the play button below to listen.

Elul Learning in August

Monday, August 21, 7:00 pmRosh Chodesh Elul: A circle of stories and friendship.
Calling all daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, friends…Come share a sweet evening of new moon storytelling to inspire a new year built upon friendship and creativity. Tea and snacks provided, facilitated by Ivy Bourgon, hosted at the home of Anna Fernbach – RSVP to hannah@bonaishalom.org for the address.

Thursday, August 24, 7:00 – 8:30 pm – Return Again: Thursday Torah Series launch with Rabbi Marc.
As the month of Elul begins, join Rabbi Marc for a close study and exploration of a variety of texts on 
teshuvah (return) from rabbinic law to the emotional, psychological and spiritual dimensions of this inner work.  Look out for Torah Thursday’s series throughout the fall.

Sunday, August 27, 9.30 am – 12:00 pm
Shofar Hike with Betsy Kessler and Rabbi Marc.
Meet at NCAR parking lot at 9.30 am. 
This family-friendly adventure will begin with an easy and short group hike to a spot where we will hear the shofar together and discuss its meanings.  We will then split into to 2 groups for a longer hike and a family hike. Hearing the shofar every day during Elul reaches some very deep places within us. This primal sound of the ram’s horn is from the natural world and hearing it in nature adds to its power. Bring plenty of water, snacks and lunch food, hats and sunscreen. Shofar optional.

Thursday, August 31, 7:00 – 8:30 pm – This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared Book Club.
Led by Deborah Knox. 
“It [life and death] is real, and it is happening right now, and it is happening to us, and it is utterly inescapable, and we are completely unprepared.” While it’s tempting to deny this, Rabbi Alan Lew proposes that accepting this stark fact—and allowing it to break our hearts open—primes us for spiritual transformation. Join us to explore how Rabbi Lew weaves together Torah, personal experience, and recommended inner practices, elucidating how we can consciously engage the High Holiday cycle, thereby building the spiritual muscle to do teshuva year-round. A passionate student of Judaism and other wisdom traditions, Deborah Knox applies their teachings and practices to uplift consciousness and promote well-being and social change. She does so via teaching mindfulness meditation, coaching young leaders, and helping groups and systems evolve. Deborah is fascinated by the sometimes harrowing process of transformation and feels called to help midwife it.


Elul Learning in September

Tuesday, September 5, 7:00 – 8:00 pm – Shira: Singing as Spiritual Practice in Preparation for Rosh Hashana.
Join us for Shira with Hannah. We will explore melodies from High Holidays, igniting our visceral connection to this time of year.


September 6, 12:00 -1:00 pm – Five Steps to Teshuva from the Ba’al Shem Tov
with Morah Yehudis Fishman.
Rabbi Zushia used to say that the concept of Teshuva was too overwhelming for him, so he broke it down into five steps, based on the first letters in the word Teshuva. Come and explore these steps to come away with a working plan to tackle this most vital mitzvah, before the High Holidays. Morah Yehudis Fishman is a poet, punster, and nationally renowned teacher and author of Torah and Chassidic writings.

September 9, 8:30 pm – Fire, Drums, Spice, and Soul: Havdalah and drum circle malave malka.
We will end Shabbat with the beautiful Havdalah ceremony and then escort out the Shabbos bride with a drum circle to help us connect to the special rhythms of this season. Facilitated by Ivy Bourgon, Matt Sandler, and Rabbi Marc.

September 12, 7:00 – 8:30Forgiveness as a Spiritual Practice with Maggid Charna Rosenholtz
Elul is a prelude to the High Holiday season with themes of Renewal and Return. We have the opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and prepare to clear the pains, hurts, and barriers for a renewal of heart and mind. We will take the time to explore the deeper meaning of this preparatory month for the New Year with exercises for self-reflection. Please bring a journal. Maggid Charna Rosenholtz, MA, an Aleph Rabbinic Student, continues to teach inspiring Torah locally and nationally, for the young and old, and for believers and heretics.

Saturday, September 16, 8:15 pm – 11:00 pm – Selichot Program and Service: Reconciliation and Regaining Trust: a facilitated discussion with a rabbi, a judge and a psychotherapist and a mediator, hosted by Rabbi Marc. After the collapse of Apartheid in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established and run by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The results were staggering.  Join Rabbi Marc and a diverse panel to explore the power and the limits of reconciliation and rebuilding trust after hurt and pain.  Guests include Judge Murray Richtel and psychotherapist Joanne Neiman. 8:15 pm – Havdalah, 8:30 pm -10:00 pm – Panel, followed by snacks. Selichot Service with musical and spiritual themes of forgiveness 10:30 pm, led by Jan Kirschner and Rabbi Marc.

Joanne Neiman is a Licensed Psychotherapist with 20 years of experience helping individuals and families navigate life’s challenges.  Originally from Boston and its suburbs, Joanne is first generation and grew up in a Jewish-centric immigrant community, and this has always been a guiding influence in her life.

Judge Murray Richtel spent his career as law professor, Boulder District Court Judge and a mediator. Upon retirement he went to Israel to study Hebrew where he met his wife Linda and became an Israeli citizen in 1998, now spending part of the year in Boulder and the fall semester in Jerusalem where he teaches American law at Hebrew University.