By Cantor Emma Lutz


During this Hebrew month of Elul, our tradition creates time and space for us to prepare for the High Holy Days by beginning our process of teshuvah (repentance). Elul is our invitation to reflect on where we missed the mark in the past year and to make active amends for any missed opportunities to reach out and connect to our neighbors, friends, family, and loved ones.

Reb Nachman of Breslov, the great Chassidic teacher, taught that human beings can reach out in three directions: up to God, out to other people, and into our own hearts. The secret, taught the Rebbe, was that in fact all three directions of reaching out are truly the same. When we reach out with kindness to other people, we find our best selves and our pathway to God. When we reach up to God, we are able to make deeper connections with others and with our best selves. And when we reach into our hearts to connect deeply with our core values and true intentions, we are able to be our most authentic selves before God and other people.

During these weeks leading up our High Holy Days, challenge yourself to REACH OUT. Reach out to a friend or relative you’ve missed connecting with in the past year. Reach up to God through prayer or a commitment to a new spiritual practice or mitzvah. Reach into yourself through journaling or by trying a new self-care ritual.  May we continue to reach for our best selves this month and into the new year, grabbing hold of meaningful opportunities for connection to ourselves, to God, and to our sacred community.