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  • Writer's pictureRandy Lubratich

10 Elul 5783/August 27, 2023

by Rabbi Andrew Rosenkranz

Ahad Ha’am, one of modern Zionism’s earliest philosophers, once wrote, “More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” Shabbat is what unites us as Jews. Even God needed a rest after a hard work week. For us, it’s a time to release the tensions of work and the stresses we encounter in our daily lives.

If Shabbat is our weekly break, think of the High Holy Days as our annual break. And like Shabbat, the Days of Awe are a gift from God to the Jewish people. One day a week isn’t enough to contemplate all the aspects that make up our sense of individuality, we need a time period, beginning with Elul and continuing throughout the holidays. Repentance, forgiveness, memory and gratefulness are just some of the many emotions we experience during this period.

Each year during this time, something appears to me during Elul that is usually different from the year before, and which helps me prepare to enter the sanctuary on the High Holy Days. This year it’s a sense of gratefulness. To be alive, to have my family and friends, and to simply experience life – I have a keener sense of gratefulness this year than I have in the past.

Next year, I’m sure, it will be something different. But whatever it may be, I know that the worship experience, along with our beautiful machzorim, will highlight for me that special emotion I’ve been feeling all year.

What special theme of the holidays will strike you this year as especially pertinent?

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