Religious : : Religious Committee Report

If it’s September, it must mean the High Holy Days are near. The High Holy Day season actually begins prior to Rosh Hashanah with the special Selichot service, which this year is on Saturday evening, September 17.

Selichot actually is two things. First it is a special service where we begin our High Holy Day preparations. Some Jews refer to this service as the “Jewish midnight mass” because traditionally it is held late at night, although we do not do that in our congregation. It occurs on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah. However, if the first day of Rosh Hashanah is a Monday or Tuesday, as it is this year, the Selichot service is the Saturday night the week before, approximately a week and a half before Rosh Hashanah. In preparation for the Selichot service the Torah mantles (covers) are changed to the High Holy Day white and if the clergy wear robes they are also white.

Selichot also refers to the prayers, piyyutim, liturgical poems, recited. We begin using the special High Holy Day tunes at this time and the prayers are those we say on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Selichot means forgiveness in Hebrew and in these prayers we ask for God’s forgiveness for our sins. Think of the translations of the prayers we recite saying, “We have sinned by…” reciting a list of personal and communal sins. We say the Vidui, the confessional where we hit our chests beginning with the word Ashamnu. These prayers are said for the first time in this season at this Saturday night service and continue to be recited at services through Yom Kippur. We focus on wrongdoing in these prayers so we can take responsibility for our deeds and repent and vow to do better.

Please join us on Saturday, September 17, for this special beginning to the High Holy Day season. You will remind your self and jog your memory regarding the High Holy Day melodies and prepare yourself for the beginning of a new year with a fresh start.

Sandy Shapiro & Arnold Miller