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Reb Lisa's Message

September 14, 2022

Selichot ~ Prayers of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a major component of the High Holy Days. We seek forgiveness from others, and from God. We grant forgiveness to those making amends with us. And, we also consider what we may need in the way of self-forgiveness.

This is a time of teshuva–return. Part of what we are returning to is unfinished business, repairing harms, mending fences. We do much of this work during the month of Elul, in advance of Rosh Hashanah.

In Hebrew, Selichot means forgiveness. Liturgically, Selichot are prayers of forgiveness said before and during the High Holidays. Selichot is also the name of the special service observed the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah. If Rosh Hashanah is on Sunday, which it is this year, Selichot services take place the week before, on Shabbat.

Selichot services are traditionally held at night. Some communities hold their Selichot services at midnight. Late night communal gathering sets the tone for this quiet, introspective service.

I encourage everyone to join me and Hazzan Steve for CBI’s observance of Selichot. We will gather this Saturday night at 8:30 pm, in person at CBI. Beginning first with Havdalah, we will continue with soulful melody, heartfelt prayer, and time for reflection on the theme of forgiveness. It is also our tradition during Selichot services to transform our sanctuary by changing the covers for the Torahs and bimah table to white. This represents purity and the potential a new year brings. It’s powerful to participate in this change together as a community. As we make these outer changes, we are inspired to make internal changes. We begin to embody the idea that transformation is possible.

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