While yesterday’s Great American Eclipse captivated onlookers from Oregon to South Carolina, it also presaged the onset of the month of Elul and the Jewish High Holy Days. Beginning at sundown tonight, August 22nd, Elul heralds the period of reflection that culminates in the Days of Awe.
In the Ashkenazi rite, the first formal service of the High Holy Day period—s’liḥot—takes place at midnight on the Saturday prior to Rosh Hashanah. It functions as an inauguration of the penitential season—a prelude to the coming Days of Awe and the themes of repentance and renewal.
In honor of Elul and the coming High Holy Days, today we begin streaming our two-hour radio program A Season for Forgiveness. Originally broadcast on NPR affiliates in 2004, the program features the Milken Archive’s groundbreaking recording of an entire Orthodox s’liḥot service, with illuminating commentary by Rabbi Ishmar Schorsch and Neil W. Levin.