The Month of Elul
A Video Message from Rabbi Lewis

Logistics for "Make The Mahzor Your Own"

As Rabbi writes below, we want people to own their own Mahzorim.

You can buy one from TAA - with a bookplate showing it's yours! - for $30. Submit your request here and schedule a pickup at TAA. [Books are like new although may have been used in prior years.]

To order the Mahzor Lev Shalem directly from the publisher, click here. They cost $29.40 (until August 20th) and then it will increase to $49 plus shipping. 

If you plan to participate in Elul learning and want a mahzor, but are not in a position to purchase one, please email Rabbi Lewis.

If you do not want to participate and prefer to borrow one of TAA's Mahzorim, please submit your request here and schedule a pickup at TAA. 
Make the Mahzor Your Own!
by Rabbi Lewis

This unprecedented year of virtual High Holiday services, we are trying many things for the first time. We are trying to get all TAA members to hear the shofar blown at least once during the month of Elul. We are inviting you to multiple opportunities for learning during Elul and we are trying to get a mahzor (High Holiday prayer book) into everyone’s hands for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  

While you can borrow a book from TAA, there is also an option to purchase a mahzor. (If you want to make the mahzor your own, but are not currently in a position to purchase one, I’ve got a deal for you - see below.) I am very excited by this possibility; not because I care if you own a mahzor, but because if you do own a mahzor, you are more likely to make it your own. Why is that important?
Mature prayer is deeply personal and so unique for every individual. The words in each copy of the book may be identical, but the meanings and associations are different for each person who encounters them. To engage fully in prayer, we need to find our own personal relationship to the text - our unique personal questions, connections and disconnections. Of course, as our lives change, the relationship to prayers changes as well. To deepen our experience of prayer, it is helpful to record meanings, associations and reflections and so your prayer book becomes a tool for personal spiritual growth, showing the signs of loving use like the walking stick of an avid hiker. 
Some of our Elul learning will focus on central prayers of the High Holidays. If participants in these sessions have their own books, they will be able to make discrete notes in their Mahzor that can be updated each year as life and relationship to the prayers change. If you want to participate in this way by attending at least one of these study sessions, but can not at this time make the purchase, please let me know and I would be honored to provide a mahzor for you.  

I am told that some may find this idea of writing in a prayer book to be transgressive. If you are writing a shopping list, then I would agree. However, if your notes help you connect to the prayer and the yearnings of your heart, then that is the purpose of the book and your notes are essential. Please give it a try!

Below are two examples from my prayerbook:
Amidah First Blessing with Ex. 3:5-6

The way God is identified at the first blessing of the Amidah (traditionally said three times each day): “God of Avraham, God of Yitzhak and God of Ya’akov” (and we add “God of Sarah, God of Rivkah God of Leah and God of Rachel”). This is actually a biblical quote of the way God self-identifies to Moses from the burning bush. For me, it is a powerful reminder that God can be revealed suddenly and dramatically through the mundane and unremarkable if we can pay attention. Since the regularity of prayer can make it seem mundane and unremarkable, it is a particularly important reminder to have at the beginning of the Amidah. To remind myself, I pasted the source (Exodus 3:5-6) into my book. 
Announcing New Month

This is my favorite page of my siddur. Over the years I’ve accumulated all the options of months and days for the announcement, reminding me of all the months and years I have been paying attention to the moon’s diminution and return, and the cycles of the Jewish calendar. Most of these post-it note fragments are older than the book and have been with me since my first year as a prayer leader at TAA.  

I hope you will join the community for an Elul journey this year!
New for 2020:
Daily Shofar Sounding

We are trying to get all TAA members to hear the shofar blown at least once during the month of Elul leading up to Rosh Hashanah by holding a 10-15 minute “zervice” ending with the shofar blasts.

On weekdays from August 21st to September 17th, a brief service will start at 8:20 AM and the shofar will be blown at 8:30 AM.
On Sundays, the shofar will be blown at the conclusion of minyan at 9:25 AM. (The shofar is not sounded on Shabbat.) 

CLICK HERE to sign up.
Multiple Learning Opportunities in Elul

We are inviting you to several opportunities for learning during Elul - workshops, movement, etc. Please join us for as many as you can! See here. Additionally the TAA High Holiday website has resources to help guide you during this period of self-reflection.

CLICK on any of the following TO SIGN UP:

THIS Sunday, August 23rd at 4 PM

A two-class workshop
Tuesday September 1st at 7:30 PM
Tuesday September 8th at 7:30 PM

Workshop series led by Batya Ellinoy
Participants must register no later than THIS WEDNESDAY, August 19th and must commit to all four sessions (all at 7:30 pm)
Monday August 24th
Sunday, August 30th
Sunday, September 13th
Monday, September 21st

Morning Teachings After Shofar Blowing at 8:30 AM for 15-25 minutes
All require reading of brief texts or viewing of short video.
86 Middle St, Gloucester, MA 01930