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Elul, the Hebrew month before Rosh Hashanah, is a month of spiritual preparation for the coming Days of Awe. This year Beth El is again offering a series of classes and programs to deepen our personal and spiritual engagement with the High Holy Days and their themes. You are invited to attend any of these sessions; they are open to everyone, regardless of background, prior experience or preparation. Our goals are to support one another in experiencing the richness of our traditions, deepening our understanding, and engaging meaningfully in the opportunities for introspection that Elul brings. 

Elul Book Discussion – This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared by Rabbi Alan Lew
September 1st, 7th, 15th, and 22nd at 7:00 pm
Mixed Presence (Beit Midrash & On Zoom)

Join Rabbi Bekah and Rabbi Ira as we read together This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared, by Rabbi Alan Lew. Over the course of four weeks we will read and discuss this book as a framework to supplement and enhance our own spiritual journeys this High Holy Day Season. Please see below for the schedule and read the listed chapters in advance of the session. Each session will focus on a particular moment of the High Holy Day season and will be enriching if you attend all 4 sessions or just 1! Click here to join on Zoom

  • September 1st – The Month of Elul and Selichot – Chapters 4 and 5
  • September 7th –  The Biblical Readings of the High Holy Day Season (no advanced reading needed!)
  • September 15th – Rosh HaShanah and the Days of Awe – Chapters 6 and 7
  • September 22nd – Yom Kippur – Chapters 8, 9, 10

Daily Sounding of the Shofar
During the Hebrew month of Elul, we sound the shofar every day. These blasts are a “wake-up” call to the deepest parts of ourselves, intended to inspire and remind us to engage in the soul-searching needed to prepare for the High Holy Days. The sound is also significant as it serves to bring our community together during this sacred season.
Beginning on August 27th, the first day of Elul, and continuing until September 24th, the evening before Erev Rosh Hashanah, we will gather at 6:00 pm on Zoom every evening (except for Friday evenings, when the shofar will be heard during Shabbat services) for a brief shared moment for reflection and hear the shofar. On Saturdays, we will begin with Havdalah. We will start at 6:00, and the Shofar will be sounded at about 6:05. You may drop in early to shmooze if you wish - no prior registration is required. Click here to join every evening at 6:00 pm!
Volunteer ba’alei tekiah - shofar-sounders - are needed for each of these gatherings! There are 24 opportunities. If you or a member of your household would like to blow the shofar for us, please contact Lisa Feldman.
Daily Emails During the Month of Elul 
Once again, Ritual Committee members have curated a series of brief readings on the themes of the High Holy Days season. Sign up to receive a short, daily email posing ideas and questions for reflection about the themes of the Days of Awe. Subscriptions were automatically renewed, but if this is new to you, you can subscribe directly in ShulCloud or by sending an email to

Selichot Program & Service
Saturday, September 17th, 7:00 pm 

The High Holy Days, known in Hebrew as the Yamim Nora'im —  the Days of Awe — are preceded by S'lichot, when we first hear the familiar and powerful words and melodies of the season. S’lichot is observed on the Saturday evening the week before Rosh Hashanah. We will begin with Havdalah, and watch the documentary, Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be Silent. This documentary explores the remarkable life and time of Rabbi Joachim Prinz and his continued call to action to speak up and speak out at the injustices and inequalities in our society. We will hold his message as we reflect on the themes of S’lichot and this season's call to not only reflect, but to act on our personal and communal wrongdoings. We will prepare for our own season of transformation as we see the bimah transformed for the New Year and conclude with Selichot services.  

The High Holy Day Olympics
Sunday, September 18, 11:00-1:00 pm at Congregation Beth El
Join your Beth El family for the second annual High Holy Day Olympics! Together we will participate in experiential, ruach-filled activities and friendly competition, as we learn about the upcoming holiday season: Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and everything in between! After the olympic games, we’ll enjoy some relaxed time together for a picnic lunch. Click here to sign up!
Embodied New Year with Movement, Melody & Mikvah
Sunday, September 18, 3:30 pm

So much of our preparation for and practice during the High Holy Day season is anchored in our minds. Join Rabbi Stern and Cantor Jenkins-Adelberg exactly one week before Rosh Hashanah for an embodied experience of preparation. We'll begin with gentle movement (accessible to all levels) and melody on the beach, and conclude with a cleansing and invigorating mikvah [ritual immersion] in the mayim chayim [living waters] of the Bay. All are welcome as we stretch, breathe and release what we need to let go of from the last year in order to begin 5783 renewed and embodied. We'll gather on the sand at Albany Beach, located on the Albany Bulb at the west end of Buchanan Street in Albany. Wear your bathing suit under your clothes, bring a towel and warm layers—the water is cold!

Fri, March 31 2023 9 Nisan 5783