It's Elul: 6 Ways to Get Ready for the High Holidays

September 2, 2019Kate Bigam Kaput

Elul, the Hebrew month that precedes the High Holidays, is traditionally a time of both rejoicing and somber reflection when we take stock of our spiritual selves and our lives. Elul rituals prepare us for the many acts of repentance and forgiveness that are hallmarks of the upcoming Days of Awe, starting with Rosh HaShanah.

Reform Jews have adapted many customs of this season in unique and inspiring ways. Discover new ways to enjoy a sweet and meaningful new year!

  1. Reflect: Elul is all about reflecting and reevaluating. Check out these three ways to deepen your Elul experience.
  2. Brush up on the basics: Learn more about the ways we traditionally observe the month of Elul, then get ready for the new year by learning about the history of Rosh HaShanah, taking part in Elul rituals, learning the holiday blessings, and reflecting on your hopes for the year ahead. 
  3. Get cookin': Go beyond apples and honey this Rosh HaShanah by learning to make a round challah, then follow it up with tasty entrees, sweet desserts, and maybe even a Rosh HaShanah seder
  4. Act for justice: The start of the new year is an opportunity to reaffirm the Jewish tradition's longstanding commitment to tikkun olam, repair of the world. You can infuse your holiday observance with a sense of social good by visting the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's website and getting involved in advocacy on an issue that speaks to you. 
  5. Teach children in age-appropriate ways: Engage your children in preparations for the new year with crafts, songs, and cooking, and teach them about the High Holidays in easy-to-understand terms with the aptly named "Rosh HaShanah Explained, for Families with Young Children" and its counterpart, "Yom Kippur Explained, for Families with Young Children." You can even celebrate Rosh HaShanah with Shalom Sesame and the animated series Shaboom! 
  6. Pray: Looking for a way to worship during the High Holidays? Most Reform congregations are going virtual this year! Check out "5 Things to Know about Attending High Holidays Services," (which won't be fully applicable during this year of coronavirus), then find a Reform congregation near you and reach out to them with your High Holidays questions. You can also search specifically for congregations near you that offer opportunities to non-members during the High Holidays season.

How will you use the month of Elul to prepare for the High Holidays? Leave us a comment and let us know! 

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