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Elul: Voices of the Coalition

by Miriam Brosseau

Coalition congregations are getting ready for the High Holy Days (where did the time go?!), and they have some inspiring things to say about the season. Here are three unique selections of Torah from our colleagues at Temple Israel of Great Neck, Forest Hills Jewish Center, and our colleague Shelly Barnathan, the Spiritual Educator at Congregation Beth Am Israel in Philadelphia.

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Flickr image by M.Angel Herrero http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyedeaz/

Kavvanah: The Accidental Reset and the Elul Moment
by Rabbi Seth Adelson, Temple Israel of Great Neck

“…I had what you might call an “Elul moment”: Where am I?  What year is this?  Am I the same person I was two years ago?…”

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The Inevitable Call of Elul
by Rabbi Gerald Skolnick, Forest Hills Jewish Center

“…The passage of time in Elul feels particularly relentless, and in a spiritual sense, it is.  There is no avoiding the reality of the calendar, nor is there any avoiding the fundamental spiritual agenda of the season.  As we re-engage with our spiritual selves, we are reminded where there is work to be done, and improvement to be made…”

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And a final thought from Shelly Barnathan, who will be leading the Congregational Learning Team in a series on powerful learning starting next week (and we’ll be sharing our learning, so stay tuned!):

אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי – Song of Songs 6:3

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…

the beginning Hebrew letters of this beautiful phrase form the name of the month of Elul – אלול

In this month of Elul, as we prepare for the Yamim Noraim, we open our hearts, our minds, and our hands with compassion towards ourselves and towards others, yearning to make meaning in our own lives and partnering with others in their journeys of meaning-making. 

It is my great pleasure to join with all of you at The Jewish Eduation Project to study and grow on our meaning-making journeys.  I have had the honor of working collaboratively with Cyd Weissman during her years at Beth Am Israel, where as a team with our Rabbi and lay leaders, we created a model of Jewish learning that used our heads, hearts, hands and feet, allowing our community to bring our whole selves to our Jewish learning.

This Thursday, September 6, 2012, we will begin our collaborative meaning-making journey with a focus on opening the gates of Elul –  looking to bring generosity and compassion to ourselves and others as we enter the New Year. 

What is Elul calling you to do? How will you and your congregation use this time to reflect, and move forward? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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