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Dr. Alissa C Zuchman, Director, 847-291-7788

Rosh Hashanah and Teshuvah Wednesday, September 6, 2023 – 20 Elul 5783

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This newsletter feels early. This is the annual Rosh Hashanah message, and Rosh Hashanah is not until the end of next week. Thus, it feels as though we should be sending this out next week in order to say Shanah Tovah and see you in 5784 (because everyone needs to make the joke about seeing someone next year at least once when the new year is coming up).

And, yet, something about the timing seems appropriate too. In many communities, this Saturday night marks the beginning of the time to say Selichot (though it should be noted that Sephardic Jews have been saying Selichotsince the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul), the service during which prayers and poems are recited to ask for forgiveness. The pinnacle of the service is the recitation of the 13 Attributes of Mercy (Exodus 34:6 – 7), which among other attributes note that God is slow to anger.

The Selichot recited in the lead-up to and during the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (10 Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur) hold a special place. These poems and prayers are meant to be part of the teshuvah(repentance) process, which is to say that teshuvah is not something just for the High Holidays themselves but also for the days before and between (and even after). Teshuvah is not easy; it takes hard work and serious thought.

The hard work that we as grownups must perform in order to do teshuvah is worth remembering when we try to help the young people in our lives improve. They will slip up and continue to make mistakes. Having rachmanut(compassion) and being slow to anger with them can only help them to continue to put forth the effort to improve and to grow.

As we look ahead to a new year, may we all have the strength and patience not only to do serious teshuvahourselves but also to help others to do the same.
Shanah Tovah and see you in 5784!

Rabbi Eric Zaff