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The Tishrei Holidays

In the fall of each year, we celebrate a major cycle of holidays. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are probably the best-known and most widely-observed of these holidays, but the entire cycle has a rhythm and flow that we cherish each year. A brief overview of the Tishrei cycle is presented here; links to further resources are listed below.

Elul -- During the month of Elul we prepare ourselves for the self-examination of Rosh Hashanah. Each morning at the end of the service, we blow the shofar as a reminder to wake up, examine our actions over the preceding year, and to do teshuvah, repentance while there is still time.

Selichot are special prayers for forgiveness. They are begun the Saturday evening (traditionally at midnight) preceding the start of Rosh Hashanah, and repeated during the daily service between that day and Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah -- Literally, the "head" or start of the year, Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Yamim Noraim (the Days of Awe), which we spend in penitence, prayer, and charity. These days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also referred to as the Ten Days of Repentance , a time we are given to make any amends and resolve to do better during the coming year. The Shabbat that falls during this week is known as Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of Return.

Yom Kippur -- The Day of Atonement, our last chance to make things right with God.

Sukkot begins four days after Yom Kippur and is a total change of pace. We build temporary shelters outside and "live" in them for eight days.

Hoshanah Rabbah marks the beginning of the end of the Tishrei cycle. It falls on the seventh day of Sukkot.

Shemini Atzeret is the eighth day of Sukkot and the end of this joyous holiday.

Simchat Torah is the end of the fall holiday cycle, but both the end and beginning of our Torah-reading cycle each year.