Happy full moon of Elul and harvest moon (the full moon closest to the fall equinox)!

Because the new moon signals the start of each Hebrew month, the full moon signals that we are halfway through the month. Being halfway through the month of Elul means that Rosh Hashanah is only two weeks away! Since the new moon is often a time of setting intentions, the full moon is a time to check in with those hopes or goals we had for the month and to see if we are on track. The brightness of the full moon can illuminate and strengthen our wishes for the month. For me, this month of Elul and the month of September has been incredibly busy. Probably the busiest month of year. And so this full moon of Elul is a reminder to me that we're turning and getting closer. It's time to pause and check in with my own personal spiritual intentions for preparing for Rosh Hashanah. It's an opportunity to take a look at my calendar for the next two weeks and make sure I have carved out the time not only for my preparations for leading high holidays but my own inner work as well.

If you're local to Washington, DC and are looking for a creative way to do some reflection and meaningful rituals to prepare for Rosh Hashanah, be sure to join us for our next workshop Align: Art & Spirituality Workshop: Preparing for the Jewish New Year on Sunday September 22, 2019 3-5pm. There is still time to sign up for the full year of the Align series which continues monthly at the Center for Mindful Living in Tenleytown!

If you're still looking for High Holiday services, check out the New Synagogue Project in Washington, DC. I will be leading the family services again this year and it's going to be so much fun! Main services will be led by NSP rabbi and founder (and my friend from rabbinical school) Rabbi Joseph Berman. Click here for info!

Also starting this month is WellBodies, a course in Embodied Judaism at the Adas Israel Community Mikvah which I am thrilled to be helping with. More information below.

Blessings for Elul, a month of reflection and spiritual preparation as we turn towards the Jewish New Year,

Rabbi Sarah


This Shabbat we welcome the new moon and the new Hebrew month of Elul. Welcoming the new moon is a special tradition in Judaism and many cultures. The new moon is technically invisible and empty. It's seen as a symbol of potential, as an empty vessel with room for whatever is yet to come, making it an especially potent time for setting intentions for the days and weeks ahead. This is especially resonant this month with so many new beginnings happening. Many communities offer a special blessing to announce Rosh Chodesh (the new moon and head of the month) and to pray that the upcoming month will be one of peace, sustenance, healing, and joy. At the end of each new moon gathering I lead, I invite others to offer words of hope and blessing for the coming month.

This is also an auspicious time of year as we notice the change in weather and begin the transition from summer to fall in the Northern Hemisphere. We also enter a period of spiritual preparation before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In this way, the holiday, months and seasons are all connected. Elul is my favorite month, and I have always loved providing opportunities for meaningful, creative and accessible Jewish learning opportunities for preparing for the Jewish New Year. If you've been looking for a way to let go of the past and make room for the future, to acknowledge where you can grow and savor your achievements, or wish to set clear goals and intentions for yourself for the new year and beyond, then please join us.

Elul Writing Workshop on Tuesdays September 3, 10, and 17. Our three-part spiritual writing workshop.

Align: Art & Spirituality Workshop: Preparing for the Jewish New Year on Sunday September 22 and continues monthly.

Blessings for Elul, a month of reflection and spiritual preparation as we head towards the Jewish New Year,

Rabbi Sarah

The evening of August 15th and the day of August 16th is the holiday of Tu B'Av (the 15th of the month of Av) traditionally known as a day of love, or the Jewish Valentine's Day when in ancient times matches were made. Tu B'Av falls right on the full moon, believed to link the bright shining potency of the moon with the full expression of love, romance, and fertility.

Consider how you might show extra love to yourself this Tu B'Av. Maybe take yourself on a date or do something extra kind for yourself over Shabbat or this weekend. Think about how you can you deepen your relationships with yourself this month.

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Tonight on August 1st at sundown, we welcome the new Hebrew month of Av. The beginning of Av leads us into a dark time in the Jewish calendar as we make our way toward the 9th day of the month, Tisha B'Av, which commemorates the destruction of the Temple. But after that, the energy shirts midmonth with Tu B'Av (aka Jewish valentine's day) on the 15th of Av. This month reminds us of the nature of life. We ride the energy of this month, knowing that life contains both pain and love, destruction and creation, separation and rebuilding. Once Av rolls around it also means we are heading towards the season of preparing for the High Holidays! Can you believe it?


Last weekend I flew home to Louisville and then drove up to Zionsville, Indiana with a friend of mine I've known since 4th grade. Sara and her husband Mike drove us up for a very special 20th reunion at Goldman Union Camp Institute. We spent Shabbat with friends I hadn't seen in over 15 years and it was really quite special to be back in this place that I love so much. We enjoyed the Shabbat Walk, song session, the campfire, catching up, reconnecting, reminiscing, and seeing everything at camp that was still the same and the few things that were new. It was wonderful to also be able to reconnect with that part of myself that I call Taz - my younger, freer, more energetic self. I am so grateful I was able to be there for this reunion Shabbat.

The Full Moon in July is the Buck Moon, named after the new antlers that emerge from a buck's forehead around this time of the year. It is also called Thunder Moon, Hay Moon, and Wort Moon.

Another name for the July Full Moon is Thunder Moon because of the frequent thunderstorms in the summer. The Anglo-Saxon name is either Hay Moon, after the hay harvest that takes place in July, or Wort Moon, indicating that July is the time to gather herbs (worts) to dry and use as spices and remedies.

-Information from www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/buck.html

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The Align series is back! Starting with a special introductory session on Sunday August 25 & a special pre-Rosh HaShanah workshop on Sunday September 22.

Align: A New Moon series incorporating Jewish Spirituality, Seasonal Wellness & Creative Expression

  • Candle lighting Ritual
  • Learning and Discussion
  • Meditation and/or gentle yoga (for all levels)
  • Creative Writing and/or Art
  • Closing Ritual

Open to all backgrounds and all genders.

Center for Mindful Living 4708 Wisconsin Ave Washington DC 20016 Second Floor

Join us for an Align Introduction Session on August 25, 2019. Click here for details and to sign up.

Fall Align dates start with a kick of workshop in Preparation for Rosh Hashanah on Sunday September 2019, 3-5pm. Click here for details and to sign up.

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According to the Jewish calendar, each month begins on the new moon and is a time for learning about the wisdom of that month and setting an intention. Each month has attributes and characteristics that often correspond to the season. Tammuz can be a month of heat, bright sun, and long days, which follow the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.

Notice when the heat arises for you.

Breath and try to balance the intensity with cooling, refreshing practices.


Click on the post heading to see more images from the retreat!

Here are a few photos from our Summer Solstice Retreat! We enjoyed meditation, restorative yoga, a food ritual, a delicious lunch, art making, and intention setting for the season. Special thanks to Jodi Balis of Red Lentil Consulting for providing our nourishment for the day.