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Preparing for the High Holidays during Elul

by Nanci Levy | Sep 09, 2019

Torah Study Elul- 9.9.19We are in the Hebrew month of Elul, the last month of the Hebrew Year. During the month of Elul we begin to prepare for the coming Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Preparation for the Holidays takes many forms. Of particular importance and meaning is the spiritual preparation. Traditionally, the month of Elul is a time of reflection and introspection. Each day of this month leading up to Rosh Hashanah we are meant to take some time for meditation, contemplating the year that is coming to an end, and the teshuvah; the returning, renewing and repenting; that we need to do before the upcoming new year.

Some of our Handmaker residents have noticed a daily meditation that is being displayed in the Rubin Assisted Living Neighborhood this month. At the suggestion of our resident Rabbi, Rabbi Richard Safran, having an easily accessible and viewable daily mediation is one way that we are helping our residents to spiritually prepare for the High Holidays.

Additionally, at our regular Torah Study during the month of Elul we will be taking some time before our studies to think about the past year and assist the participating residents in the process of Teshuvah.

We are grateful that Rabbi Helen Cohn of Congregation M’Kor Hayim will be coming to Handmaker on Sunday, September 22nd at 10am for a lecture focused on the upcoming High Holidays. We will spend some time reminiscing about our favorite holiday memories, consider our mistakes of the past year and set some intentions for the coming year. RSVP to nlevy@handamker.org if you are interested in attending.

It is customary to hear the sound of the shofar blown, daily if possible, during the month of Elul, in part, to awaken our soul during this period of introspection. We are looking forward to hearing Rabbi Billy and students from Tucson Hebrew Academy blow their shofarim for us toward the end of the month. It is always a pleasure to have Rabbi Billy and the THA students bringing their Ruach (spirit) to Handmaker, especially this time of year.

And this year, as in past years, Mel Cohen and Dan Asia will be leading the Selichot Prayers at Handmaker, on Saturday, September 21st at 6:30pm. The Selichot prayers are special prayers and poems that are traditionally recited on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah begins.

These are some of the ways that we will be preparing spiritually at Handmaker for the High Holidays. In addition to the spiritual, there are of course some other more logistical preparations going on as well.

Our kitchen is preparing for the many special holiday meals, from Rosh Hashanah to Simchat Torah. All meals are free for our residents, but open to guests as well at a small cost. We are currently taking reservations for these meals. If you are interested in joining us, please call Teresa Forkum at 520-322-3622. For more information about times, dates and prices, check out our website at handmaker.org/living-at-handmaker/spiritual-life.

Residents will have the opportunity to make Honey Cakes this month, which is a traditional dessert to make at this time of year, and to share with friends.

Mel Cohen and Dan Asia will again be leading our High Holiday services along with Michael Rosensweig. We are excited to also have the help of Rabbinical student, Debi Lewis, from Santa Barbara, California, thanks to a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation. Debi is preparing for the High Holiday services through meetings with Mel, Dan and Mike, as well as by practicing the prayers with our High Holiday melodies. We are looking forward to meeting her, and having her on our campus throughout the High Holidays.

All of our services are free and open to all. Check out our website for times and dates at handmaker.org/living-at-handmaker/spiritual-life.

We will also be putting together a Book of Remembrance again this year. If you would like to make a donation and add any names to this book, please contact Teresa Forkum at 520-322-3622.

We wish you and your families a meaningful month of Elul as you prepare for the upcoming High Holidays. And a sweet and happy New Year!