I love this time of year. The crispness in the air is a subtle reminder that our children and grandchildren are headed back to school and soon the High Holidays will soon be here.
Last week marked the beginning of Rosh Chodesh, the new Hebrew month, Elul. Elul is an acronym in Hebrew for “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine” (ani l’dodi v’dodi li). These words signify many things including the relationship between God and the Jewish people. While there is no significant writing about Elul in biblical or rabbinic text, there are many traditions and customs concerning the month of Elul. I like to think of this of this time of year as being in a proverbial batter’s box.
When we reach the month of Elul we note that we are exactly at the one month to Rosh Hashanah mark. Elul’s arrival signifies the beginning of a time of introspection, self-refection, goal setting and rediscovery. It is a time of year when we evaluate our role and purpose in life, when we are to be even more intentional in our words and deeds, and when we need to look at ourselves and the world around us with unbridled honestly. We begin engaging in these activities as a warm up for the New Year. If we were to step into the batter’s box without some warm up swings, surely we would have fewer successful hits.
In that same spirit, we are given the month of Elul as a gift to start warming up for the deeper introspection that comes at the High Holidays. From the second day of Elul until the day before Rosh Hashanah, the shofar is blown each day (other than Shabbat) so that we are reminded that it’s time to wake up and prepare for the New Year.
While taking stock of our personal lives, it is also a good time to look at our Jewish communal life too. Just as we evaluate our own successes and failures, we also have communal ones. We have been using this time of year top prepare for a busy season of Jewish programs and events, hopefully utilizing the knowledge we have gained to make the coming year even better.
There are many areas upon which I could focus as I look back at this year, but one truly stands out. What (or more like, who) stands out the most to me are all of our community members, our donors, who have given so much of themselves to make this year successful. Without our donors, we simply would not be able to function every day. I am so incredibly grateful now, and all year long, for a ALL of the generous people who support our community. Our 2017 annual campaign surpassed last year’s campaign total raising $4,176,000 from more than 3000 people! We significantly increased our number of donors this year. THANK YOU all who helped in making our campaign so strong. We have been able to build a strong Jewish future because of you in Rochester, Israel and around the globe.
But, it does not end there. You also stepped up and supported the community when we have raised money in emergencies – for the fires in Israel, our cemetery when vandalized and most recently for the catastrophic disaster in Houston. While we have the time for self-reflection and introspection, Houston is just beginning a recovery effort that is going to take many years. It is truly incomprehensible. We will continue to update you on the situation of the Jewish community in Houston, which has been very hard hit by the flooding.
As we prepare for next year, I want to reiterate to all of you how very grateful I am for your generous support this past year. We could not do what we do as a community without you.Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I wish you a good month of Elul.
With deepest appreciation this Shabbat and always,