Elul Reflections 5777

August 23 – September 21, 2017

The Hebrew month of Elul is the last month of the Jewish year. As such, it is considered a month of spiritual preparation for the High Holy Days. Special meditations are added to the daily service for some, known as S’lichot, or penitentiary prayers. (*The Saturday before Rosh Hashanah is also known as S’lichot, and it is used as a night of contemplation and study.) For several years, a group of Reform rabbis and educators has collaborated on a series of Elul Thoughts, shared with our congregations in a daily email, and accompanied by a daily Tweet. This year we are highlighting colleagues from the Orange County Reform Community. We are happy to share them with you.

This year’s Elul Thoughts include contributions from:

April Akiva R.J.E, Director of Religious School Education, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA
Rabbi Heidi Cohen, Temple Beth Sholom, Santa Ana, CA
Rabbi Sarah DePaolo, Shir HaMa’alot, Irvine, CA
Rabbi Stephen J. Einstein, Founding Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA
Rabbi Rachel Kort, Temple Beth El of South Orange County, Aliso Viejo, CA
Rabbi Brad Levenberg, Temple Sinai, Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Eric Linder, Congregation Children of Israel, Athens, GA
Rabbi Alan E. Litwak, Temple Sinai, North Miami Beach, FL
Cantor David Reinwald, Temple Beth Sholom, Santa Ana, CA
Cantorial Soloist Jenna Sagan, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA
Rabbi Nico Socolovsky, Temple Beth Tikvah, Fullerton, CA
Rabbi Richard Steinberg, Shir Hama’alot, Irvine, CA
Rabbi Daniel Treiser, Temple B’nai Israel, Clearwater, FL
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, TX
Rabbi Kvod Wieder, Temple Beth El of South Orange County, Aliso Viejo, CA
Rabbi David N. Young, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA
Rabbi Gersh Zylberman, Temple Bat Yahm, Newport Beach, CA

On behalf of all of the participants in this year’s Elul Thoughts, we want to wish you and yours a very happy new year. May this Rosh Hashanah bring you ...
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Rabbi David N. Young In early June, my wife Natalie went to a four-day conference, and as much as I miss Natalie when she is away, there was a part ...
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Rabbi Rachel Kort For those of us who have experienced a significant loss in our lives, we have come to expect that feelings of loss will be more palpable at ...
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Rabbi Richard Steinberg In the Torah portion, Behar-Behukotai, we read the Hebrew word "Yimachu". There are several translations for this particular word. One commentator translates it as "heartsick", another states ...
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Rabbi Gersh Zylberman When I work with wedding couples, I employ a pre-marital counselling tool known as Prepare. During my sessions with each couple, we explore multiple dimensions of their ...
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Rabbi Alan Litwak Tonight, we will recite Selichot, the series of penitential prayers.  The Selichot service is traditionally held late in the evening, when our resistance to change is low ...
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Today’s Elul Thought, our last Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, is a meditation to help you get ready for Shabbat and the High Holy Days, thanks to Cantor David Reinwald! Just ...
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Rabbi Stephen J. Einstein The Olympics are coming to LA in 2028!  This is big news for our region.  I remember the 1984 Olympics.  I was so fortunate that I ...
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Rabbi David N. Young In his TED Talk, “The Psychology of Your Future Self,” Harvard Professor Dan Gilbert explains the phenomenon of the “End of History Illusion.” He explains that ...
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Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker In Deuteronomy (30:11-14) we find the following teaching: “Surely this Instruction (Torah), which I enjoin upon you this day, is not too baffling for you, nor is ...
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U’netaneh Tokef is considered one of the most challenging prayers of the High Holidays.  Many have a hard time with its simple reading, that our lives are not really determined ...
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Rabbi Brad Levenberg As I reflect upon my most recent visit to Israel, I was struck by the fact that we visited the coastal town of Akko in the same ...
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Why My Mother Cried April Akiva, R.J.E. Each year, while preparing for the High Holy Days, my mother would blast Avinu Malkeinu over the stereo and sob.  I can clearly ...
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Rabbi Nico Socolovsky ..The chief of the police asked: “How am I to understand that God, who is omniscient, asks Adam, ‘Where are you?’” The rabbi replied: “Do you believe ...
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Rabbi Stephen J. Einstein Sometimes when I want to explain the concept of midrash, I will simply say, “Father, I cannot, tell a lie.” Every American child has grown up ...
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Rabbi Sarah DePaolo Maimonides taught that in order for a person to successfully complete the process of t’shuvah, she must confront the same situation in which she erred, or find ...
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Cantorial Soloist Jenna Sagan Elul is the time in our year for accountability and return. It is a time for deep examination and teshuvah; a chance to dig into your ...
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Rabbi Eric Linder Lao Tzu wrote, Every journey begins with a single step. Think about just one thing that you can do. One act of t’shuvah, one mitzvah. This is ...
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Rabbi K'vod Wieder There is a midrash that the month of Elul that precedes the High Holy Days is the time that Moses went up the mountain after the sin ...
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Rabbi Stephen J. Einstein I love artichoke hearts.  If I am looking over a restaurant menu and I see a salad that includes artichoke hearts, it will likely be my ...
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Cantorial Soloist Jenna Sagan This summer, I had the opportunity to attend a baseball game with my congregation's brotherhood. With thousands of my fellow passionate Angels fans, we cheered and ...
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Rabbi K’vod Wieder To do the work of repair of our relationships and true renewal of our lives, we need to be willing to vulnerable. We need to acknowledge where ...
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Rabbi Sarah DePaolo After months of only the occasional workout, I recently started lifting weights again. On that first day back at the gym I picked up the same weights ...
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Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker Reflecting on our lives, our mistakes and how to do better can be difficult. Let’s remember our faults – all the times we messed up… who wants ...
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Rabbi Richard Steinberg The 1st of Tishrei we will welcome the new Jewish Year.  The Hebrew word Rosh means "Head" in English.  The Hebrew word "Shana" means "Year" in English ...
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Rabbi Gersh Zylberman It is often claimed that for every two Jews there are three opinions. Some doubt this assertion, arguing that for three opinions you only need one Jew! ...
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Rabbi Alan E. Litwak : Happy Birthday! The expression “shouting into the wind” connotes the act of trying to communicate, fruitlessly. When someone shouts into the wind, the idea is ...
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Rabbi Nico Socolovsky Asking to see more clearly Life without Teshuva is like being condemned to dwell in Plato’s allegorical Cave... It is to perceive the world under a mechanism ...
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Rabbi Heidi Cohen For my birthday today, my husband Matt and I are giving me a very strange gift, we are taking our daughter Dahvi to college! (We’re in Washington, ...
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Rabbi Brad Levenberg We have come once again to that sacred time on the Jewish calendar where it is appropriate to take stock of the many blessings in our lives ...
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