For many of us, the month of Elul and the High Holy Days are our personal and communal time for introspection. The work we do for ourselves as Jews is significant as we take the opportunity to make teshuvah (forgiveness) to others and to God and to improve our lives.
Rob Eshman’s praise of Mark Rosenblum’s decades-long battle for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is well deserved (“The Crusader,” Aug. 23). I’ve worked with Mark for years, share his passion, if not his energy in working for the two-state solution and fearing for Israel in the years ahead if the two-state solution fails. Charting current birth rates, Jews could be a minority in an Israel with a Palestinian majority. And then what happens? Following Mark’s vision, we must keep trying because failure leads to a very bleak, troubled tomorrow.
I confess there’s something that’s always bothered me about this time of year, when we put such a big emphasis on reflecting on our mistakes. Why only now? Isn’t this something we should be doing all year? As a community, we certainly do plenty of it, through the very act of constantly challenging one another.
A typical study session for Elul, a pluralistic Israel-based beit midrash (house of study), doesn’t confine itself to a discussion of Abraham’s journey in Genesis.
For Lee Weissman, a Breslov Chasid in Irvine, the recent onset of Elul caps a spiritual journey he began a month ago with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
What is the dream of the future president of the United States? For the answer, check out your e-mail or a pocket-sized, 36-page booklet called "Jewels of Elul IV," which is subtitled "29 Dreamers and Their Dreams." Among the dreamers who sent in their thoughts and hopes are the presumed presidential candidates, Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.
Tri-ing to Raise Funds for Israel; Gems of Wisdom for 5767.
Elul is traditionally a month for polishing the soul. During this time, we search ourselves for blemishes. Then, through the process of teshuvah, we polish and refine ourselves. The culmination of this refinement is the fast of Yom Kippur, from which we hope to emerge shining and radiant.
Each night before retiring, the great Chasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav would make a list. At the end of a long day, he would write down all the wrongs he had committed -- against other people, against God, against himself. Nachman would read the list over and over again, with increasing levels of agitation and remorse, until he welled up with sorrow.
In this week's Torah portion, the Israelites are encouraged -- commanded really -- to write something down.
Goodbye summer; hello High Holidays. While Rosh Hashanah falls later in the calendar than normal this year (Oct. 3-5), it's never too early to get ready for the Jewish New Year. Besides, preparations traditionally begin in the Hebrew month of Elul, which started Sept. 4.
If you didn't know that -- and were too afraid, too preoccupied or too unknowing to ask -- then we have just the thing for you: this handy guide to get your mind, body and soul in the spirit, so to speak, for the Days of Awe.
We've included Frequently Asked Questions about the High Holidays; a how-to on finding a synagogue (no, it's not too late); a music and book list for inspiration and explanation; and a primer for those new to the faith.
We also have prepared our special Congregation Directory (pages 40-47), a comprehensive listing of Los Angeles congregations sorted by neighborhoods.
This week ushers in Elul, the month when Jews traditionally prepare for the High Holidays. In anticipation of the Day of Judgment, we judge ourselves, conducting a full cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the soul). The Torah portion Re'eh can serve as a checklist for forgiveness, repentance and renewing our lives. Its various laws and themes each suggest avenues for real and lasting change:
Blessing and Curse