Rabbi’s Message

The Yamim haNora’im – the Days of Awe – Will Soon Be Here!
August 26, 7 pm – Outdoor Service at the Putnam Valley Grange

Dear Friends,

In just a few days we will enter the Hebrew month of Elul. Although neither the Bible nor early rabbinic writings attach great significance to Elul, during the first millennium customs began to develop which designated the month as a time to prepare for the new year. As the sixteenth-century Jewish mystic and scholar known as the Maharal of Prague asserted, “All of Elul . . . a person should look into his (her/their) soul and search his (her/their) deeds, in order to make confession.”

Amongst the most significant of customs during month of Elul is to hear the blast of the shofar in order to rouse the spirit and begin the process of searching the soul. As we know, this process will culminate during the Aseret Ya’mei Teshuva – the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh HaShannah to Yom Kippur. The centerpiece of this time is the reciting of selichot or penitential prayers as we look at who we have been and aspire to who we wish to be.

Last year RTPV acquired Mishkan HaLev: Prayers for Selichot and the Month of Elul, as a companion to Mishkan HaNefesh: Tabernacle of the Soul, our Reform Movement’s latest Machzor, or high holiday prayerbook. Each Shabbat, beginning this Friday, August 26, as we recite the beautiful prayers and experience the poignant melodies of the High Holidays, we will have the opportunity to begin the journey into our souls and consider who we might be in the year to come.

My late friend and colleague, Rabbi Alan Lew, z”l,  so aptly entitled his powerful book, This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation. Let us take the coming month to study ourselves, our liturgy and learn the melodies of the High Holidays so that the Aseret Yamei Teshuva, the Ten Days of Repentance, will truly be a time for personal growth and fulfillment.

I look forward to our embarking upon the month together,

Rabbi Andrew R. Sklarz, DD, MSW, MA