S'lichot of memories with Beth Am and SOJC
Few sounds are more mystical and breathtaking than the sound of the shofar heard daily during the month of Elul. And no shofar blast was perhaps more awe-inspiring than the blast heard at the conclusion of the S’lichot service. Congregation Beth Am in Longwood and the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation (SOJC) joined together for a very special S’lichot program and service on Saturday night, Aug.31 at Beth Am. This unique “S’lichot of Memories” was a night to remember.
Havdalah, marking the end of Shabbat with the aroma of spices, the sweet taste of wine, the light and warmth of the flame and the sound of joyous prayer, was celebrated. Following Havdalah, Beth Am and SOJC hosted a sumptuous and sweet pre-S’lichot oneg and social before the start of the service, which featured the uplifting chanting of SOJC’s Cantor Doug Ramsay.
During S’lichot, participants of all ages experienced a unique opportunity to share their special High Holy Day stories and memories. It was a S’lichot that many will talk about as they relate their stories in the future. Julia Lustig, the new education resource and family programming coordinator at Beth Am, had a bittersweet story. For her the High Holy Days are highlighted by Erev Rosh Hashanah dinner. “For the first time in 22 years I will not be in Louisville, KY, for the holidays. On Erev Rosh Hashanah more than 30 of my aunts, uncles and cousins would travel from New York to join my family at my grandparents’ home in Kentucky. We would all cook and eat and share stories of the past year and our plans for the coming year before heading off to services. While I am excited to be in Orlando this year, I will miss the family gathering.”
At the conclusion of the service, Eva Gaber sounded the shofar to herald the coming of Rosh Hashanah.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnick of SOJC spoke of the importance of S’lichot. “As we approached the High Holidays there are a number of landmarks that reminded us just how close we were to a new year. The beginning of the month of Elul was one, hearing the shofar blown on a daily basis was another. S’lichot is a major landmark along that path. It reminded musically, liturgically and spiritually that Rosh Hashanah was upon us and the time for repentance had arrived. That we had the ongoing opportunity to mark this moment with our friends from Congregation Beth Am only added to the significance of the experience.”
Rabbi Rick Sherwin, spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Am, shared his insight, “The S’lichot service takes place at the end of Shabbat, the one day each week we picture the world as it should be, and consider ways to bring the world one step closer to the way it should be in the coming week. The purpose of the S’lichot service is to inspire us to bring ourselves one step closer to the way we should be in the coming year. I am honored that Congregation Beth Am and SOJC opened the High Holy Day season together. ”
Greg Alman, religious activities vice-president at Beth Am, commented, “The only ‘charge’ associated with this year’s S’lichot service at Beth Am was the spiritual charge those in attendance felt at the end of this inspiring evening.”
For more information on the service schedule at Beth Am, consult the synagogue’s website at http://www.CongBethAm.org. Information on the activities and schedule of services at SOCJ can be found at http://www.sojc.org.