Socially Distanced, Spiritually Connected:

A Community-Wide Elul Event

Join the greater Baltimore Jewish community for a month of Jewish learning and reflection, preceding the High Holidays.

Beginning Thursday morning, August 20
Ending Friday morning, September 18
every morning, except Shabbat

8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

(Scroll down to see special Shabbat Havdalah experiences)

Participating Organizations:

4Front, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Beth Israel Congregation, Beth El Congregation, Bet Aviv, Beth Am Synagogue, Columbia Jewish Congregation, Beth Tfiloh, Bolton Street Synagogue, Macks Center for Jewish Education, Chevrei Tzedek, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Congregation Netivot Shalom, Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl, Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore, Jews United for Justice, Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Congregation, Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning, Pearlstone Center, Pikesville Jewish Congregation, Repair the World and Temple Isaiah

Havdalah Experience links are below.

Links to recordings of the sessions are below.

Date Presenter Organization Session Title Session Description Session Recording
Thursday, August 20
Rabbi Jay Goldstein and Rabbi Dena Shaffer
Beth Israel Congregation and 4Front
Achat Sha’alti - One Thing I Ask
Our opening session will explain the significance of the month of Elul and the various rituals that tie the month together in preparation for the High Holy Days. We will explore the particular challenges we are facing this year and the importance of taking time to prepare for our entry into the holy day season.
Friday, August 21
Rabbi Elisa Sachs-Kohen
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
Build an Ark, a Tabernacle, or a City of Refuge
We will share a moment of mindful meditation as we explore Jewish images of self-compassion.
Saturday Night, August 22
Cantor Melanie Blatt
Beth El Congregation
Havdalah Experience
Sunday, August 23
Rabbi Sonya Starr
Columbia Jewish Congregation
The book of Jonah: Lessons of Tikkun Olam for Today's World
The Book of Jonah is often dismissed as a children's book. During our time together we will lift up the many important contemporary lessons embedded in this haftorah reading.
Monday, August 24
Rabbi Yechiel Shaffer
Pikesville Jewish Congregation
The Akeida: Offering us the tools to face anything
Through a close reading of the story of the binding of Isaac, we will reflect on circumstances in our lives that we may feel bound by, and how we can model Abraham's search of a deeply religious and meaningful life.
Tuesday, August 25
Rabbi Andy Gordon
Bolton Street Synagogue
What Does it mean to Repent?
What does it mean to repent both our individual and communal transgressions? Modern takes on teshuvah will propel our discussion of how to better ourselves and our world.
Wednesday, August 26
Rabbi Debi Wechsler
Chizuk Amuno Congregation
Shema Koleinu: Hear Our Prayer
What do we mean when we implore God to "hear" our prayer?
Thursday, August 27
Rabbi Jennifer Weiner
Har Sinai/Oheb Shalom Congregation
These are the Days of Our Lives
Haven't we done enough Teshuvah this year? As we prepare ourselves for the High Holy Days, what will we reflect upon this year?
Friday, August 28
Amian Kelemer
Macks Center for Jewish Education
Serach and the Search
Serach bat Asher, ingrained in the journey of the Jewish people from the Exodus of Egypt to the times of King David and beyond- and her connection to Elul
Saturday Night, August 29
Cantor Melanie Blatt
Beth El Congregation
Havdallah Service
Sunday, August 30
Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg
Beth Am Synagogue
Shofar Sho Good: An Exploration of Source and Stories About Rosh Hashanah's Most Enduring Symbol
Each morning of Elul, it's customary to sound the shofar and reflect on our lives, relationships, failings and aspirations. Together, we'll explore sources that illustrate the power of this ritual symbol and consider how the shofar's call may impact us as we head into 5781.
Monday, August 31
Rabbi Psachyah Lichtenstein
Pearlstone Center
The Ecology of Elul: The Torah of Nature and the Nature of Torah
Take a deep dive into the nature cycle of the seasons and its relationship to the Hebrew Calendar. Together, we will engage in a free flowing celebration of the wisdom within creation.
Tuesday, September 1
Rabbi Seth Herstic
Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah
"Get Up! Cry To Your God!" Silence and Prayer in Sefer Yonah
A study of Yonah's silence and prayer, and its meaning for our High Holiday experience.
Wednesday, September 2
Rabbi Ariana Katz
Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl
Teshuvah Too Soon
When is it too soon to make teshuvah? In this session, explore the places that are not yet ready to repair, to forgive, to reach out, and how to honor the still unfolding places during the High Holy Days.
Thursday, September 3
Rabbi Andrew Busch
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
Recognizing the Good
As we weigh our behavior, we should recognize the shortcomings, but also the good in us. Together, we will explore texts encouraging Hakarat Hatov, recognizing the good, and thus prepare for balanced soul searching.
Friday, September 4
Cantor Jennifer Rolnick
Beth Israel Congregation
Meditation on Elul
This session will provide an opportunity to meditate on Elul themes through chant.
Saturday Night, September 5
Cantor Melanie Blatt
Beth El Congregation
Havdalah Experience
Sunday, September 6
Rabbi Rory Katz
Chevrei Tzedek Congregation
Why Do We Still Refer To God As King In A Democratic, Egalitarian Society?
Rosh Hashanah is sometimes called God's Coronation Day. What are the layers of meaning that Jews have associated with kingship throughout our history? If we value democracy and egalitarianism, why are we still referring to God as a king? We will investigate this tension head on. Join us to explore a wide range of sources that offer new—maybe even radical—approaches to reconciling traditional language with contemporary values.
Monday, September 7
Molly Amster
Jews United for Justice
Racism and Responsibility
What does Jewish tradition say about intention, impact, and responsibility?
Tuesday, September 8
Ellie Batkhan
Jewish Community Center
Family Ties: An Elul Reflection on Family Estrangement
Elul gives us an opportunity to untie our emotional knots, and see if we can reconcile any family differences that are holding us back. As one Jewish sage put it, a rope that is cut and retied is doubly strong at the point where it was severed.  
Wednesday, September 9
Rachel Petroff Kessler
Temple Isaiah
Seeing God in Ourselves and Others
What does it mean to take seriously the idea that we are created in God's image? Together we'll explore text from the Mishnah and reflect on its relevance in our journey of doing Teshuvah.
Thursday, September 10
Rabbi Chai Posner
Beth Tfiloh Congregation
God is my Light: Faith and Elul
This session will look toward Psalm 27 which is recited during the month of Elul as a source of inspiration and faith.
Friday, September 11
Rabbi Joshua Gruenberg
Chizuk Amuno Congregation & Schools
Modern Rabbinic Visions of Repentance
David Hartman, Abraham Joshua Heschel & Rav Cook each present different but uplifting visions of how we find forgiveness during this time of year!
Saturday Night, September 12
Cantor Melanie Blatt
Beth El Congregation
Havdalah Experience
Sunday, September 13
Rabbi Dr. Eli Yoggev
Beth Tfiloh Congregation
Harnessing the Power of Positive Affirmations during the High Holidays
While confession and remorse play a strong role in our spiritual growth process during the High Holy Days, what is often overlooked is the need for positive reinforcement and motivation. Learn how to use Jewish positive affirmations to spiritually flourish during this holiday season.
Monday, September 14
Sara Shalva
Jewish Community Center
Turning Towards Tshuva - A gentle twisting yoga practice
This session will be an introductory yoga class with using classical Jewish texts as intentions for the practice.
Tuesday, September 15
Rabbi Elliot Kaplowitz
Congregation Netivot Shalom
Masks and Teshuva -- Finding Our True Selves
There are a surprising number of "masks" or "costumes" in the liturgy and practices of Elul and the High Holidays. These take on greater significance as masks have become a regular part of our attire during the COVID pandemic. We will explore some of these practices and their significance to our Teshuva process.
Wednesday, September 16
Ashley Pressman & Abigail Malischostak
Jewish Volunteer Connection
The Sacred One and the Call to Change: The Connection between Hands on Volunteerism and Social Justice
Join us for an exploration of humility and empowerment as it relates to hands-on service and the challenging systemic issues that create many of the volunteer needs we address each day.
Thursday, September 17
Dr. Bill Robinson
Na'aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning
Lapse, Learning & Leadership
We will explore the commonalities between the Jewish idea of sin as “missing the mark” and approaches to leadership that stress the importance of “failing forward.” Is the engine of successful Jewish leadership continual recognition of our misses and the ongoing struggle to learn from them?
Friday, September 18
Rabbi Jessy Dressin
Repair the World
*CLOSING CEREMONY* The Jewish Calendar and Community Organizing and Cycles of Deep Growth
This reflection will consider the time of year and the importance of recommitment to work that is ongoing and long term. How do we use this time to reflect on where we have been, recommit to where we want to go, and take the idea of cheshbon ha-nefesh as a way to set ourselves up incrementally for the growth we want to see of ourselves in the year ahead?