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Dear Beth El Family,

Even while socially distant, we are committed to being spiritually close. The High Holidays are a sacred time on the Jewish calendar for intense personal reflection and spiritual growth. Our weekly email series, “YOU ARE HERE,” is designed to help us keep track of this overwhelming time, and feel inspired and connected to each other as we journey this season. Look for an email from Beth El every Friday through October 9 with a video teaching from our
clergy, personal reflections, liturgical music, opportunities for spiritual growth and activism, and High Holiday programming details.

As we reflect on where each of us is on our spiritual journeys, remember that no matter where we are physically, we are all here together.
Rabbi Rachel Marder: Why is the Shofar curved?

To kick off our You Are Here series, Rabbi Marder teaches about why the shofar is traditionally curved. Each day of Elul we customarily hear the shofar’s blast as we prepare to enter the new year. What is the spiritual meaning of the shofar’s shape?

A Personal Reflection: Waking Up To Gratitude
Emily Fox, Director of Jewish Educational Initiatives at Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ

Our three-year-old recently made the exciting transition into a “big kid bed!” In preparing, a close Beth El friend suggested we use a magical clock that turns green when it’s okay to wake up. Each morning we hear the pitter patter of little feet in the hallway and she opens our door to greet us with smiles and kisses. I have come to anticipate this morning ritual as a way to begin my day with gratitude, especially at this moment. Read more here.
Olam Hesed Yibaneh: Build the World from Love

A song that Rabbi Menachem Creditor, our High Holiday chazan, originally wrote for his daughter born right after 9/11, “Olam Hesed Yibaneh” has become a rallying cry and anthem for Jewish activists. The words are based on Psalm 89:2 and express our intention to build a world filled with kindness. We will sing this song on Erev Rosh Hashanah as we look to the new year with hope and optimism.
Jewish Spiritual Practice for Everyday Living: Deep Listening
We have the custom each day of Elul to hear the shofar blast as we build up to Rosh Hashanah, also known as "yom teruah," the day of the shofar blast. May we listen closely to the shofar's call and work on listening more carefully to each other's voices.
Everyone has something to teach you. It could be your formal teachers or maybe the FedEx driver or the cafe waitress. Everyone you meet is a holy soul, a neshama, imbued with elements of wisdom of his or her own. If you listen. If you incline your ear. The usual translation of shmiat ha’ozen is to be a careful listener. To be “careful” is to be attentive but also “full of care.” Your practice today is to listen to what others say to you in a more acute fashion. Follow the example of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik and ask yourself, What is he or she really saying? Whether in a formal setting of learning or by being attentive to everyone you meet along your way, incline your ear with depth and attention to hear the deeper messages in what people express to you. The more you do this, the better you will get to be at doing it.

(With Heart in Mind: Mussar Teachings to Transform Your Life by Alan Morinis, p.26)
Congregation Beth El is an inclusive, egalitarian synagogue affiliated with United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, serving Essex, Union, and Morris counties. We can be reached by calling 

Jesse M. Olitzky, Rabbi
Rachel A. Marder, Rabbi
Jason Silberfein, Executive Director
Danielle Weitz, Director, Thelma K. Reisman Preschool  
Rivka Nelson, Director of Religious Education
Karen Freeman-Pettis, Assistant Director
Molly Gimbel, Youth Program Director
Terry Pridgen, Coordinator of Maintenance Services

Jehiel Orenstein z"l, Rabbi Emeritus
For more information about Beth El membership, please contact
Membership Chairs, Yuval Brokman and Lisa Buber.