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Congregation Brothers of Israel

L'dor Vador—From Generation to Generation since 1883
לדור ודור


The Hebrew month of Elul is in full swing.  Students have returned to school. We are ramping up for the High Holidays and everything has gotten busier.  If you visit CBOI’s office, you will notice that we have been hard at work reorganizing and cleaning out the office.  Freeing up space, digitizing records and mostly recognizing that every so often, it is important to remove the “stuff” so we can find the treasures which exist in our lives.  

The Jewish rituals of Elul are very similar.  Each morning (except for Shabbat), we sound the shofar to remind us that our very personal work of teshuvah (repentance) has begun with an examination of our souls.  In addition to sounding the shofar each day, we now include Psalm 27 in our daily prayers.  It opens with, “Adonai is the foundation of my life. Whom shall I dread?”  We focus a whole month on an examination of our souls and an evaluation of our past year, because it takes time to recognize that for some God is at the foundation of our lives.  And for others, including myself, I believe that there is a strong value system at my core. But that core value system and faith ebbs and flows as we encounter different trials in our lives.  Today, more so, as we are bombarded with social media, 24-hour news cycles, rhetoric which challenges what we believe and constant pressure to believe THIS or believe THAT without any option to believe parts of both.

The Shofar is a daily reminder that we should wrestle with and pay attention to all of these incoming messages but to do so with a sense of cleaning out the “stuff” that exists in our world so we can return to our core beliefs and foundational value system.  By returning to those foundations, we continue to grow as a person recognizing our failings and giving us permission to forgive ourselves and seek the strength to change. Whom shall I dread? Only the person we used to be if we allow it to prevent us from becoming a new self in the new year to come.

I wish each of us the ability to clean out the “stuff” and find the treasure of spiritual growth in this month and in the year to come.

Shabbat Shalom

Mon, September 16 2019 16 Elul 5779