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Sunday, September 7, 2014

For Me, the HHD Used to be a Time for a Personal Audit

by Laura K. Silver

For me, the High Holy Days used to be a time for a personal audit. I would sit in services and spend my day considering what I could do differently and better in the year ahead. A few years ago during services, I felt frustrated with myself that I couldn’t follow along with the Hebrew. I decided that by the next year, things would be different. Within a month, I enrolled in an adult Hebrew class. The following year, I followed right along in my prayer book. Last year, with the help of that class, I became a Bat Mitzvah.

I had always thought of the High Holy Days as the beginning of the reflective period, but recently I learned that the High Holy Days end an evaluation process that begins throughout the month of Elul. We are actually told to blow the shofar every day during the month of Elul to “awaken” us prior to Rosh Hashanah. Historically the shofar has been a call to assembly and a call to action. While chances are, I’m not going to be hearing a true ram’s horn daily, the idea of listening and waking up this month seems like a good one.

The news that surrounds me seems uglier by the day and uglier than it has been in a long time. Whether I am watching threats to the very existence of Israel, the torture of the Yazidis in Iraq, or hearing about a plane shot down in the Ukraine, the international news is horrifying. Locally, watching events unfold in Ferguson and throughout St. Louis, it’s not any better.

This year, I am using the month of Elul as a time to really listen. I want these days to be an opportunity to consider my personal call to action in the upcoming year. The beauty of the month of Elul, for me, is that I don’t need to formulate any plans or come to any conclusions just yet. For now, I just need to wake up and listen.

Laura K. Silver has been a member of Shaare Emeth since childhood. She is a recent participant in the Adult Hebrew and B’nai Mitzvah program at Shaare Emeth. Laura is married to Michael Silver, and they have eleven year old twins. Her blogs are regularly featured online in both the St. Louis Jewish Light and St. Louis Magazine.

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