By Rabbi Alicia Magal
Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley
Sedona AZ (September 6, 2019) – The Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah, and The Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur, together known as the High Holy Days, seem “late” this year: Rosh Hashanah begins on the evening of Sunday, September 29, 2019, continuing through the first day, Monday, September 30th, and second day, Tuesday, October 1st. Yom Kippur begins on Tuesday evening, October 8, and continues on Wednesday, October 9th. Of course, the Jewish New Year always comes on the same Hebrew date, the new moon of Tishrei in the Hebrew calendar, which can fall on different dates on the solar, secular calendar, from early to late September! Since this year was a leap year with an added month on the Hebrew calendar, all the Jewish holidays are falling on dates later in the secular calendar.
During Elul, (this year from September 1 through the day of September 29, 2019) the month preceding the High Holy Days, Jews are given the rich opportunity to reflect on the past year, and clean out the emotional and spiritual “crumbs” of mistakes, misunderstandings, and missteps that may have caused friction or hurt in relationships, and to enter the Days of Awe, as this ten-day period is known, with a “clean, pure heart.” The Elul Workshop, an interactive preparation for the themes, prayers, and melodies of the High Holy Days, will be offered on Sunday, September 15, from 2-4 p.m., led by Rabbi Magal. In addition, the musical, meditative Selichot service that precedes the Jewish New Year will be held on Saturday evening, September 21, at 7:30pm, during which there is a ceremony changing the colorful mantles of the Torah scrolls to white ones for the duration of the High Holy Days. The Selichot service includes traditional prayers asking for forgiveness, and helping prepare for the inner work and honest self-evaluation necessary before entering into the Jewish New Year, a time of judgment of interactions over the past year.
Blasts from a ram’s horn, called a Shofar, is a signal for us to “wake up!!!” from our semi-slumber, and look into our souls to do an accounting of our actions. Hearing the shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah and again at the end of Yom Kippur moves us, awakens us, shakes us to our core. Coming together at the water’s edge on Rosh Hashanah afternoon for Tashlich (from the verse of Micah 7:19 offering the image of casting our sins into the sea) allows us to release our old patterns and let go of them in a concrete physical act of throwing crumbs or pebbles into living waters. The melodies of Kol Nidrei on the eve of Yom Kippur and the “royal melodies” of our prayers, as well as the haunting chants of the Torah, Haftarah selections from the Prophets, and Vidui (confession) sections of the services all serve to elevate our thoughts and emotions, and help us transform the mistakes and hardships of the past year as we enter the new year 5780 with a renewed sense of clarity, lightness, and improved relationships with family, friends, community and our Creator.
The full schedule of the JCSVV High Holy Day services can be found on the synagogue website: www.jcsvv.org or by calling the office at 928 204-1286.
The synagogue is located at 100 Meadowlark Drive in Sedona.