Elul Reflections 14 – September 5

Cantorial Soloist Jenna Sagan

Elul is the time in our year for accountability and return. It is a time for deep examination and teshuvah; a chance to dig into your soul, and explore the opportunities you have to return to your truest self. As a clergy member, I am often asked how I connect to God, and how I personally relate to the holiest of holidays in our year. My answer? Music.

During Elul, I carefully reflect upon my year by creating an “Elul playlist.” Curating the playlist helps me to begin the crucial process of self reflection that allows me to pray, sing, and connect with my congregation every high holy day season.

This year, my playlist focuses heavily on songs of the recently departed Leonard Cohen (z”l). Through songs like “Who by Fire,” which is an updated version of the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, and “You Want it Darker” in which he cries out, “Hineni, Hineni, I’m ready, my Lord,” Cohen’s words and music cut directly to the heart of the high holy days.  

The Alter Rebbe described the month of Elul as a time in which “The King is in the field,” meaning God is at God’s most accessible. There are no formalities-just God in plain clothes, offering up a personal connection unparalleled in any other time during the year. This year, I will imagine myself facing my creator with gratitude as I listen to my soundtrack of Elul. As I listen I will, with immense humbleness, begin the process of teshuvah that is essential to becoming a Jew worthy of being inscribed in the Book of Life.

Here is my Elul playlist.  

What would you add? What would you change? What’s on your #elulplaylist?


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