Saturday, September 16, 2017,
6:45 pm - 10:00 pm
East Midwood Jewish Center
Selichot – the Gateway to the Days of Awe
We usually think of the High Holy Days as being the period of time from Rosh Hashanah through the end of Yom Kippur – the Ten Days of Repentance. But in fact the season of the High Holy Days begins a full month earlier, with the New Month of Elul. On that day, and through the month of Elul, we blow the shofar at the end of the morning service. This shofar blast is meant to wake us up, to prepare us for the days of judgment that are coming, so that we may put our spiritual houses in order.
On the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, we mark and prepare for the holiday in another way. On that night, we gather together for Selichot – the recitation of penitential prayers. The Jewish mystics believed that God was most receptive to prayers of penitence in the early hours of the morning; in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, very observant Jews will rise at dawn to recite these prayers. But because the mystics knew that most Jews would not rise so early, and because the Selichot prayers were deemed so important, they instituted the Saturday night service (traditionally done at midnight) so that others could fulfill this important obligation with a minimum of inconvenience.
At East Midwood, we make it easier still. Our evening service begins at 6:45 pm, followed by the Selichot program, and then at 9:00 pm, the Selichot service conducted by Cantor Sam Levine and the EMJC Choir. Come daven and sing with us, join in on Avinu Malkeinu and other familiar highlights of the liturgy, and get a taste of the majesty of the holiday prayers.