What is Elul?

Elul: shofar, ram's horn blown during Elul and on Rosh Hashana and at Yom Kippur's end
Elul: Shofar, ram's horn blown during Elul and on Rosh Hashana and at Yom Kippur's end

The Jewish month of Elul started last week, and it is a special month in the Jewish calendar.

Shofar in Elul

One does not have have to wait for Rosh Hashana to hear the shofar. Every morning (except on Shabbat) it is blown in the synagogue. If you are fortunate to attend a Jewish day school, you may hear it blown in school. In Elul shofar is an important reminder and symbol.

Repentance in Elul

Elul is known as a month of repentance (in Hebrew: tshuva – more explanation of tshuva would require a whole book). Introspection and reconciliation are themes of this period. For example, I like how the family of Ima 2 Seven is using this as a time to be kind (one would hope the trait will continue beyond Elul).

Music in Elul

What would a Jewish month be without some music to accompany the spirituality and preparation? Mrs. S. has some music for the soul. If you want to get ready for Rosh Hashana, enjoy Oked HaNe’kad. Rabbi Phyllis has a Debbie Friedman song and a Baal Shem Tov story as part of #BlogElul.

Prayer in Elul

Psalm 27 is added to daily prayers, as written in Gear Up for Tishri: Read Psalm 27, Psalm 27: the Beginnning, Psalm 27 and Evil-Doers and Psalm 27 and Responsibility by Ilana-Davita.

Mrs. S. reminds us: “Sephardim begin reciting Slichot (the penitential prayers) at the start of the month. Ashkenazim wait until closer to Rosh Hashanah.”

Food in Elul

Ah, finally, you say. Some are already prepping for the holidays ahead (see challot by G6). I’m trying to remember the simanim or symbolic foods to display on the Rosh Hashana table:

 carrot watercolor 
leek  apples
    need a post on dates!

I see I am missing dates. Painting project for the upcoming weeks?

What do you think of as signifying Elul?

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14 thoughts on “What is Elul?

  • Excellent Elul overview! To the “prayer” section, I would add that Sephardim begin reciting Slichot (the penitential prayers) at the start of the month. (Ashkenazim wait until closer to Rosh Hashanah.)

    Thanks for the link!

  • Very interesting. When I was a girl going to public school we had yom kippur and rosh hashana off because I lived in an area with a large Jewish population. It wasn’t until decades later when I had children of my own in public school that I realized it was not a national thing to have those days off.

    • My neighbor had a similar story: her cousin who went to Catholic school would come and tell of all the Saints days she had off from school. My neighbor (who was about 8 at the time and went to public school in our city with many Jewish teachers) would then say that *she* had off for “saints” days called Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. 🙂

  • I love the period of the High Holidays even though I’m not Jewish. When I was little I watched this children’s program on Judaism every Sunday morning. When I transferred from the public school to the Catholic school in 4th grade I knew all the answers to questions about the Old Testament and the other kids were sure I must be Jewish.

    Last year I did an online 10Q’s (10 Questions) spiritual practice online. It’s a good means for anyone to reflect on last year and prepare for the new one.

    • Ah, I knew there was a reason I joined Costco. They probably are numerous and abundant, way more than my husband could consume in one autumn. I should buy some and then share with friends.

      • I split a 2 lb. package with my mom, but they are so good, I actually think we could finish a box by ourselves.

        BTW, the library already has the Curious George book that Ilanadavita mentioned. I checked it out.

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