This new moon brought more than the end of Ramadan and a little PMS: It marks the beginning of Elul, the last month of the Hebrew year before we repent and do it all over again.
Some Eluls I get really hairshirt-y about it and list an alphabet of sins I’ve committed over the past year, but I think I’ve exceeded 26 letters this time around the sun so let’s just say I’m a deeply flawed, unconscious human doing her best to keep her heart big, her mind open and the size of her tush under control.
I’m definitely guilty of being a Bad Jew this year, only attending synagogue a handful of times since Young Yenta Man became a bar mitzvah and totally blowing off Havdalah while the kids were at camp. Frankly, while El Yenta Man and I remembering how to speak to each other without shushing a small interrupting person, I’d forgotten about Elul altogether.
Fortunately, I got a Yentagram yesterday from my favorite silver fox, also known in Jewish circles as Mr. Craig Taubman. Modern Judaism’s spiritual rock star continues his legacy community and compassion with Jewels of Elul IX, a collection of short essays by interesting people meant to help us think and pray and prepare for the New Year (5774, yo!) Sign up for a daily email for the month and be inspired.
This year’s theme is The Art of Welcoming, a fitting line of thought for Taubman, who is finally realizing his dream of a multi-faith cultural arts and spiritual center in Los Angeles. The Pico Union sits on the site of LA’s first Sinai Temple and will be a place where “Jews, Christians and Muslims can meet and pray in a safe and encouraging space.” Doesn’t get more welcoming than that.
Craig N’ Co are also embarking on a little tour of the South – nowhere near Savannah, unfortunately, but an opportunity for the Jews of Asheville, NC and Memphis, TN to sing a rousing “Hinei MaTov” with this bringer of joy and light.
Funnily enough, I just came across this 2011 post by Allison Gaudet Yarrow on the Forward’s Sisterhood blog about the Jewel of Elul I contributed way back in 2006. In it, my man Craig actually credits this yenta with bringing him to tears with my story about my mother-in-law and not letting her dance alone. Not that I’m proud of making a grown man cry, but I so cherish being a part of the Jewels of Elul family.
I have a week of catching up to do, but now that I’m signed up I won’t forget about Elul again. I like having a lead-up to the High Holidays and their deep pockets of soulful reflection, our chance to apologize for our idiocies and promise to make things better in the world this next year. Elul gives us a head start.
Lord knows I need the extra time.