Thursday, August 27, 2020

Earth Etude for Elul 8: Counting the Months: A Reflection on Rosh Hodesh Elul

by Emily Nadel

The skies these nights are dark & bright 

the moon collecting herself

the stars are 


Elul. [Elul.]

Elul: the month of return. 

Elul: when the goldenrod covers the fields and tall, thin purple flowers line 

                the roads and highways. A couple maples have shown some color — 

                not many, and among all the green the color is calling to those 

                who are listening. 

Elul: A call to see the turning trees. To feel the cooling air, the shorter 


Elul, and the New Year is just around the corner, 

and the call of the shofar calls me home

leads me home

builds a home.

We began this time of isolation during the celebration of planting. 

Nissan:     the beginning of longer days and warmer air, 

Pesach:     a new year grounded in home, a holiday for the home, celebrated 

                    in a home I had not left for weeks before, and would not leave 

                    for months after.  In these weeks of isolation, 

Counting the Omer brought meaning to monotonous days, guided me to look 

                    around - to watch the seasons, watch myself, watch our 

                    world change… culminating in 

Shavuout:    a day of revelation. This day of revelation, days after the murder 

                    of George Floyd. This Shvuous, I understood our task to be 

                    hearing the call for justice, and knowing that the call the need - 

                    for justice comes from a place of hurt, hurt with history. 

So the summer months: Sivan, Tammuz, & Av are concerned with history. with hurt. with holding loss & holding love. 

Adina Allen writes [in the Adamah Guide to Jewish Time], “Our task during this month of Elul then is to cultivate light even in the places that feel dark. In so doing we allow for something new to burst forth, a light whose brilliance we have not yet known.” 

This Elul, most places feel dark. 

Interconnected darkness; darkness that feels impenetrable and pervasive. 

Still, we cultivate light. 

We cultivate light - we must - with resiliency, 

       with tenderness, 

       with practices learned and ones developed new for 

                               these times. 

[Elul. Elul. Elul.]

This Elul, I am grateful for my friends the goldenrod and the shofar - 

        grateful for all that is grounding and familiar 

grateful for the call to return, 

    to see ourselves as beloved,

            and to cultivate light amidst all this darkness. 

Emily Nadel is fascinated by human impact and the ways human history is visible in our landscapes and cities. Since graduating from Macalester College with a focus in Jewish history, Emily has canvassed for Planned Parenthood, led the 9th grade unit at Ramah in the Rockies, studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and worked as a Teva Educator. You can find Emily exploring a new habitat, reading about eco-Judaism, and seeing what's new in her garden!

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