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The Selichot Service usually takes place on the Saturday evening prior to Rosh Hashanah. The Hebrew word “Selichot” means "atonement" and is the service that inaugurates the High Holy Day season each year. Think of it as a prelude to the introspection we initiate during this holy season each year. In the old “Stibels” of Europe, Jewish Communities held this service at midnight on the Saturday proceeding Rosh Hashanah.
The service, presented by candlelight, led to the mystical feeling that we as a community were entering into a sacred and solemn time period. It was meant to prepare our bodies and our souls for this atonement, which would hopefully come during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The stirring Shofar blast at the end of the service awakened us to this reality that holiness was upon us and we needed to act accordingly. As you read through the words, hopefully you will feel their awesome power and they will help you get into the proper mindset to celebrate Rosh Hashanah this year.
Rabbi Howard Herman DD
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