September: Time to think about the High Holy Days

The start of September is always a bit of a system shock to me. I adore summertime but September means we’re back in business! The kids go back to school and the Jewish world pulls up its boots and begins the holidays.

If this is your first High Holy Days – STOP! Consider what you will do next. Will you go to a High Holy Days service? Ifyou are the Jewish partner, are you considering taking your non-Jewish sweetheart? PLEASE do not make this the first Jewish service a non-Jew experiences! It is very serious, very long, very ancient (read: difficult to understand, full of archaic language and actions) and not a good example of what takes place the rest of the year. Don’t push them into the deep end of the pool!

The Jewish month leading up to the High Holy Days is Elul. It is traditional to use this month to prepare oneself for the serious soul searching of the holidays. It is a great time to pick something you’d like to change, a habit you’d like to break or create. You could pick something as a couple – say, a commitment to spend more time together in the new year. Talk about when and how you’ll do that.

Just before Rosh Hashanah comes S’lichot. In the Ashkenazic tradition S’lichot is a service held on the last Saturday evening before Rosh Hashanah. I love Se’ichot. It begins about 8pm at my synagogue and the service lasts into the night, often until midnight. The fall has begun, the nights are darker, the room is filled with faces that I may not have seen much during the summer. It feels cozy and warm to be gathered together. Look for a synagogue near you and check their website for times.