Daily Archives: August 18, 2010


Rejected titles for this blog post:
1. Shit, it’s Elul.
2. What the hell, Elul?
3. Elul: All Sorts of Therapy Starts Now

Elul is the 12th month in the Hebrew calendar, when Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs, resulting in confusion, frustration, excessive eating, and the mad dash to Jewish prayer spaces. The word “Elul” is similar to the root of the verb “search” in Aramaic, a language good for Talmud study and extremely bad, esoteric jokes.

Right now, the move towards Rosh Hashanah feels tense. In some ways, 5770 has been a very cruel year, and on the other hand, I’m lucky and I should continue to know that. So during Elul, I search, for a prayer community to spend it with, for space in my brain to work out the liturgy that often makes me feel muddled, resentful and distant, and to consider what I want to change.

It’s strange, how I’ve managed to absorb this time into my yearly routine, in spite of living in a world dominated by a Christian culture, where the New Year begins on January 1st, and regardless of my religious beliefs, I’m supposed to be overcome by the joyousness of Christmas.

If I think about it in these terms, it’s crazy that there are openly observant Jews, that any of us are brave enough to defy convention by demonstrating our Judaism publicly. Like it or not, in spite of what our personal politics might be, every second that we spend living in diaspora as visible Jews is a seriously radical act. Maybe, knowing that, we can start this year with different intentions, looking fearlessly, as Marge Piercy says, into “the black zero of beginning.”