How to Prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in Five Easy Steps
Can you believe its already September? With summer in the rear view mirror and the High Holidays fast approaching beginning sundown, Sunday, September 25, we are afforded a wonderful opportunity to find new meaning in our lives during the month of Elul, the season of love.
Our Rabbis tell us that there are five customs observed during Elul which help to prepare us for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
1. Blowing the shofar each morning (except on Shabbat).
The sound of the Shofar awakens our soul and stirs us to remember that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, ancestors, parents, teachers, those who have helped to shape and influence who we have become.
2. Reciting special prayers of penitence called Selichot, (Hebrew: סְלִיחוֹת, romanized: səlīḥōt, singular: סליחה, səlīḥā), especially those said in the period leading up to the High Holidays and on fast days. The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy are a central theme throughout these prayers. A special Selichot service is conducted late in the evening, often by candlelight, on the Saturday night a week before Rosh Hashanah.
3. Visiting the graves of our loved ones.
Elul is a time of year when Jews traditionally visit the graves of loved ones. This custom reminds us to honor their memories and prompts us to think about our own lives and the legacies we will leave to others; kind words spoken, comfort offered, love given and received; all take on added meaning as we enter the High Holiday season.
4. Reading Psalm 27, which begins, “The Lord is my Light and my Help”, or “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation”. This Psalm is both a cry for help and a declaration of belief in the greatness of G-d and trust in the protection G-d provides.
Probably the most important task before us as we think about asking forgiveness from those we may have wronged and asking ourselves how we can be kinder and help those in need.
As the calendar moves closer to the High Holidays, the Florida Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs wishes everyone a peaceful and thoughtful Elul and L’Shana Tova.
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