Three special moments in the week to come

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

I hope this note finds you well. We have many special moments coming up. I’d like to draw your attention to three of them.

Tomorrow night at 8pm we’ll hold our annual Selichot services. This is one of my favorite services of the year (I recently posted on my blog about why I love it so much.) We’ll begin with havdalah, sanctifying the transition from Shabbat into the week. We’ll sing some beloved High Holiday words and melodies, easing our hearts and souls into the journey of teshuvah (repentance / return) which is so central to this season. We’ll also take the time to write down some of the places where we’ve missed the mark in the year now ending, things for which we seek forgiveness and release. We’ll end with a potluck dessert reception; please bring a dessert to share.

This year Selichot is extra-special because it falls on the weekend of the fall equinox — the temporal doorway through which we walk from one season to another. As we enter into the new season of fall, and the coming new year of 5775,  what do we want to hold on to, and what do we want to release?

On Sunday at 2pm we’ll have a brief service of remembrance at the CBI cemetery in Clarksburg. Our cemetery is a beautiful and peaceful spot, and there is something very special about gathering there just before the Days of Awe to honor the memories of our loved ones who are buried there. The service is brief, and afterwards all are welcome to take their time exploring the cemetery and placing pebbles, symbols of our remembrance, on the headstones. Even if you don’t have any loved ones interred there, you are welcome to join us and help us make a minyan.

On Wednesday evening at 7:30pm we’ll begin our celebration of Rosh Hashanah with a festival evening service. This year we’ll continue our longstanding tradition of having three congregants speak that evening on a shared theme. This year’s theme is “Hope,” and we’ll be hearing from Rich Cohen, Steven Green, and Wendy Penner — each offering a different take on the theme and a different set of ideas about what hope means to them at this moment in this year. (Our Rosh Hashanah services will continue on Thursday morning at 9:30, Thursday evening at 7:30 once again, and Friday morning at 9:30.)

I hope you’ll join us for some or all of these sweet observances of this beautiful time of year.

May this last Shabbat of 5774 be meaningful and sweet!

Rabbi Rachel

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