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2020 Elul Programming  |  Online Elul Resources  |  2020 High Holiday Programming


What is Elul?

The month prior to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is Elul. It is used as a time to mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepare for the transition to a new year. Jewish leaders encourage the month of Elul to be a time of introspection and personal stock-taking (known in Hebrew as cheshbon hanefesh…an accounting of the soul), as well as a time for repentance (known in Hebrew as teshuvah...returning). The customs of Elul are meant as preparation for Rosh Hashanah, when Jewish tradition teaches us that divine judgement and forgiveness is given.

What are these customs?

The blowing of the shofar: It is tradition to blow the shofar every weekday after morning services to rouse us from complacency and jolt us into repentance.

Psalm 27: It is customary to recite daily Psalm 27, which assures us of God’s protection and also pleas that he not forsake his people.

S’lichot: The prayers of forgiveness called S’lichot, including also the 13 Attributes of Mercy, are recited during Elul. Some communities begin the recitation at the beginning of Elul, though Ashkenazi Jews generally begin the practice on the Saturday prior to Rosh Hashanah.

Elul’s Weekly Torah Readings: The Torah readings during the month of Elul provide timely cues for people to awaken to reflection and observe their lives…

  • Parashat Re’eh – Reminds us to see clearly the possibilities presented in each moment and to choose the path of blessing.
  • Parashat Shoftim – Invites us to consider the unfinished business that tears at our hearts.
  • Parashat Ki Teitzei – Demands that rather than impulsively ceding to our desires, we watch them for deeper truths to be revealed.

The Significance of Elul

The idea of repentance in Jewish thought is a return to the path of righteousness. Devoting an entire month to take dedicated steps of introspection, assessment, goal setting and forgiveness (of both your own transgressions as well as those of others), provides a clean slate and a purposeful path into a new year that is guided by truth and mercy. Our rabbis and Jewish leaders of old knew that this could not be done in a day, and with the customs of Elul, they set their people up for successfully leaving one year behind and beginning fresh in the new year.


2020 Programming (for PJTC Members) Not a PJTC Member? Click here to learn about our membership!

PJTC has prepared resources and programming to help inspire and guide your readiness for the new year:

Elul@PJTC (Daily Inspiration App) - CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

Daily for 30 days leading up to Rosh Hashanah (8/20-9/18). Our tradition intends the Hebrew month of Elul, the last month before the Jewish New Year, to be a time of introspection and spiritual preparation for the High Holidays.  Elul@PJTC is a tool to help guide and inspire you through this process. When you sign up, you’ll receive a notification each day of a new message from Rabbi Carrier and a new question to help you look deep within, to gain a greater understanding of who you are and what kind of person you want to be in the new year. These questions are not a “quiz” with right or wrong answers; they are a chance for you to think about your own answers, perhaps write your answers in a journal, or if you wish, share your answers in a private forum with others using the app, and start a conversation. Elul@PJTC will be accessible either on your smart device or your web browser, and all daily messages will be archived so if you miss a few days, you can catch up at any time. 


Weekly Elul Sichot (Small Group Discussions) - CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

Once per week, for the four weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah (8/23-9/18). Imagine our whole community having the same deep conversations to prepare ourselves for the holidays, just at different days/times. Get your friends to join the same discussion group, or sign up to meet new wonderful people! Some of our fabulous lay leaders will be facilitating these discussions, so when you go to sign up, pick the day/time, and you will be able to see who the leader is for your sessions. Zoom links will be sent to those who sign up.  You’ll get the most out of these sessions if you can make all four weeks with that same group, but it’s ok to miss a week or two; just do your best to be there and help others create pockets of community through this weekly opportunity.  


Community S'lichot

Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 7:30pm, virtually via Zoom and Facebook Live. The Jewish communities of the San Gabriel, Pomona, and Inland Valleys enter the New Year 5781 b’kol echad, “in one voice,” with a very special evening of music, inspiration and introspection virtually on Zoom and Facebook Live. All participants must register to actively participate. Click here to register today! To see a flyer and find out more about S'lichot, including its significance and holiday resources, click here.


Teshuva Painted Rock Project

Teshuva (repentance) is a big theme of the season. We invite the entire congregation to create their own Teshuva Painted Rock and be part of this beautiful, community-building project. You can use words, symbols, colors, images--anything that you feel represents your wishes for the new year. We are including some example photos of painted rocks to get you started. You do the painting, drop them off at PJTC, and we will place your inspirational rocks in the garden of Cindy’s Playground. Even if we cannot be together at PJTC during these challenging times, our rocks will symbolize that we are still all in this together. 

If you already have the supplies to complete this project at home (acrylic paint, paint pens/sharpies, rocks, paint brushes), great! If not, we are providing multiple means and opportunities for you to participate:

  1. Pick up your family’s own personal supply kit from PJTC, and paint your rock at home. Our USYers have volunteered to create these kits for you. So that we have an idea of how many kits to create and how many rocks you’ll need, please order ahead HERE.  Pick up days will be:
  • Sunday, August 30 (for religious school families, during their pre-assigned school supply pick up)
  • Sunday, September 18 (Erev Rosh Hashanah)
  1. Attend a physically distanced outdoor rock painting session and use the supplies PJTC sets up for you. We’ll put each family at a different outdoor table, everyone wears masks, each table is distanced from the next. All supplies are sanitized between uses. We will have a monitor making sure people follow distancing protocols. And, your PJTC friends can sit at the next table over and paint while you paint! Multiple sessions will be occurring September 18-27. Stay tuned for more information.


No matter what, we encourage you to drop your painted rock back off at PJTC the week of September 18-27, in bins that will be provided. (We will also have bins provided during this week for your canned goods donations to Foothill Unity, as is our annual tradition.)


Sisterhood & Men's Club High Holiday Goodies - CLICK HERE TO ORDER

These giving groups would like to gift you a special High Holy Days goodie bag filled with a holiday challah, honey and apples!

With the sweetness of challah and honey, may reflection and prayer bring new hope to your heart and true peace everywhere in the New Year.

Sisterhood’s Community Outreach program, in collaboration with the Men’s Club and PJTC’s Membership Assistance Committee (MAC), is offering a way for each of our members to welcome in the Jewish New Year with a complimentary one-pound holiday challah, a small jar of honey and a few apples. This will also be an opportunity to receive your High Holy Day Greetings booklet and membership directory.

Although we are inviting you to pick up your celebration package on Friday, September 18, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at PJTC, limited deliveries within a reasonable distance from the synagogue will be available that same day. All appropriate handling and safety precautions will be followed to insure items you receive are contact free.


Online Resources


You too can blow the shofar!

  • Click here to watch a how-to video on blowing the shofar.

Engaging Elul as a Family:

  • Click here to read a My Jewish Learning article to help guide family members of all ages toward an enriching Elul.
  • See our ELUL for kids activity suggestions below! (click on the image to open and download a PDF)

Tue, June 28 2022 29 Sivan 5782