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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 Chevrutah 5783: Einstein and the Rabbi, by Rabbi Naomi Levy
Throughout the month of Elul, we’ll explore this book as a Beth El community. In August, we will share a reading guide for your independent reading, and / or join us for a Book Chevrutah (group conversation) every Wednesday from 12:00-12:45 on Zoom. During this time we will reflect on our week's reading as we prepare for the High Holy Days. You can purchase the book in advance through its publisher or Amazon. Please RSVP by clicking here!

Click here to join the Zoom discussion!

  • Wednesday, August 23rd -Searching for the Soul (Pages 3-40)
  • Wednesday, August 30th - Tapping into the Life Force (Pages 43-119)
  • Wednesday, September 6th - Listening to the Love Force (Pages 129- 223)
  • Wednesday, September 13th - Welcoming the Eternal Force (Pages 239-295)

The High Holy Days 101 - Thursday, September 7th from 5:00-6:00 pm in the Beth El Garden
The High Holy Days are coming! And, you may feel completely unprepared?! Join Rabbi Ira for a High Holy Day primer as we explore what these High Holy Days are all about, how we can prepare ourselves for this period of time, and how we can bring the High Holy Days into our homes this coming season! 

Let’s Talk T’shuvah! Led by Beth El’s B-REDI Committee
As Jews, we are blessed with this yearly opportunity for self-reflection.  How have we missed the mark?  Where and how can we do better both individually and as a community? 

We invite you to tackle these questions and more through our Jewish lens of social justice and belonging.  We’ll reflect on our own engagement with justice, belonging and compassion for others.  

Please join us for a lively and enriching conversation on Thursday, September 7th from 7-8:30pm in the Beit Midrash.

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 17th, Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, and continuing until September 13th, two evenings 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, and on September 9, when the shofar will be heard at the Selichot service) for a brief shared moment for reflection and to hear the shofar. We will start at 6:00, and the Shofar will be sounded at about 6:05. On Saturdays, we will begin with Havdalah, and so we'll end a few minutes later. 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 sound the shofar for us, please contact Judy Tate.
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

Embodied New Year with Melody, Meditation & Mikvah
Saturday, September 9, 4:00 pm

So much of our preparation for and practice during the High Holy Day season is anchored in our minds. Join Rabbi Stern for an embodied experience of preparation. We'll begin with melody and body-centered meditation 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 5784 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!

Selichot Sunset Stroll & Service
Saturday, September 9th, 7:00 pm
Sunset Stroll and Program beginning at 7:00pm (in-person only)
Selichot Service and Havdalah beginning at 8:45pm (on Zoom and in the Sanctuary) 

The High Holy Days, known in Hebrew as the Yamim Nora'im —  the Days of Awe — are preceded by Selichot, when we first hear the familiar and powerful words and melodies of the season. Selichot is observed on the Saturday evening the week before Rosh Hashanah. We will begin our Selichot program with an accessible Selichot Sunset Stroll as we explore the themes of this season through meditation, movement, conversation, and moments of personal reflection. We will prepare for our own season of transformation as we see the bimah and our Torah Scrolls transformed for the New Year and conclude with Havdalah and Selichot services.

Wed, May 29 2024 21 Iyar 5784