Selichot are a group of prayers and poems said in preparation for and during the High Holy Days, specifically Yom Kippur. These are words asking for forgiveness and preparing us to move forward with new goals and contemplation of how we live and behave. The service of Selichot, held on the Saturday prior to Rosh Hashanah (although, exactly which Saturday depends on what day of the week Rosh Hashanah falls), was described in the 11th century Machzor Vitry: ‘At the conclusion of the day of rest, we come first to meet You. Incline Your ear from above, You who dwells amongst praise, To hear the song and the prayer.’
Over the centuries, each community has developed their own Selichot customs and each found ways to mark this entrance into the High Holy Days.
HaNefesh, our new community, will come together this Saturday, September 12, at 8:00 pm to observe a very unique Selichot.
Before we enter into the selichot prayers, we need to take time for healing. This year has been a challenging one in so many ways. Each of us have experienced loss, pain, anger, frustration, sadness, and every other possible emotion. Each of us come to this space of HaNefesh to fill our soul, find comfort, challenge ourselves to grow and expand our mind and spirit, and most important of all, each of us come to find a safe and welcoming place where we can live our Judaism and be our best self. In order to enter this space of new beginnings it is important to create and experience healing.
Our healing prayers ask for healing of mind, body and spirit. We pray for healing of the body during this pandemic and that the time will not be too distant before we are able to gather with friends and loved ones. We pray for healing of mind and spirit to help us transition from a place of pain to a place of strength, acceptance, and openness to see the whole world through the lens of respect and compassion. We pray for the opportunity to start again, return again, to a place in our soul that finds joy and excitement in exploring who we are and who we hope to become.
I hope you will join us this Saturday evening for a service of healing, an opportunity to give thanks for allowing us to rise up from the depths of despair and great challenge, and the opportunity to ask, ‘what do I want and need for my own spirit, for my soul, for my heart and mind, that I might be stronger and open to the opportunities of living my best life this coming year?’ Together, let us do the important work of reflecting on the past year and set a vision for a new beginning, a new year of caring for our Nefesh, our soul.
Click here to read all about our High Holy Days and the schedule of services and events.