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The Fall Holy Days: New Moon / Month Elul

The Fall Holy Days/ Festivals are Coming!

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” of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

As the month of divine mercy and forgiveness, Elul is a most opportune time for teshuvah (“return” to God), prayer, charity, and increased ahavat Yisrael (love for a fellow Israelited.  One Rabbi parallels Elul to a time when “the king is in the field” in contrast to when he is in the royal palace, “everyone who so desires is permitted to meet him, and he receives them all with a cheerful countenance, showing a smiling face to them all.”

Here are some customs and practices for the month of Elul:

  • Each day of the month of Elul, we sound the shofar (ram’s horn) as a call to repentance.
  • 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.”
  • Psalm 27 is added to the daily prayers, in the morning and afternoon.
  • During the last week of Elul, before Rosh Hashanah, the Selichot prayers are recited.

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