8 podcasts to get you in the High Holiday mood

The entire month of Elul is a High Holiday ‘preparatory period’ to make repentance more meaningful, genuine and intentional.
(Photo: Canva)

Elul is the last month of the Jewish calendar year. This year, it begins on Friday, August 26, and culminates in Rosh Hashanah

Traditionally, Elul is meant to be used as a time for introspection and reflection. The point of Elul is to set the tone for the High Holiday period. It’s all about taking personal stock of the past year and thinking about the year ahead.

During this period, leading up to Rosh Hashanah, Jews engage in cheshbon hanefesh (“an accounting of the soul”). The entire month is a ‘preparatory period’ to make repentance more meaningful, genuine and intentional. 

With that said, here are 8 podcasts to get you into the Elul mindset:

How to Fix a Soul in 30 Days

The Hebrew month of Elul is upon us, the month leading up to the awe-filled celebrations of the High Holidays in Tishrei. During Elul, we’re commanded to take stock of our soul and prepare for the divine judgment that begins on Rosh Hashanah.

But Jewish tradition, which has a lot to say about every single aspect of each and every other observance, is silent on Elul. How should we prepare? What does our soul require? That’s up to us to find out.

In this new ten-part podcast, Kylie Unell, a doctoral student in Jewish thought, a thinking Jew, and a perpetually wondering person, will try anything, from doubling down on prayer to the Hassidic practice of Hitbodedut, to try and fix her soul, and help you fix yours. Join her and a crew of unexpected and wise guides on this journey, a one month journey to figuring out the hardest bits about being human.

Elul Unbound

Dan Libenson and Lex Rofeberg analyze pressing issues for 21st century American Judaism. Mixing their own analysis with interviews of leading thinkers, practitioners, and even “regular Jews,” Dan and Lex look to push past the bounds of what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. In Judaism Unbound’s mini series, “Elul Unbound” Libenson and Rofeberg are joined by Wendie Lash to re-vision how the observance of Elul — the month directly preceding Rosh Hashanah — could evolve and deepen.

The Power of… Self-Transcendence

Does sacrifice always mean struggle? Does doing something for someone without getting anything back always mean sacrifice? Are you defined by what you did 5 years ago or can we change? Listen in on this conversation to hear what Noam and Chloe have to say about sacrifice, self transcendence and the road to becoming a better society.  

Chloé Valdary is an American writer and entrepreneur whose company, Theory of Enchantment, teaches social and emotional learning in schools, as well as diversity and inclusion in companies and government agencies.

Sacred Time: Elul (Living Jewishly Podcast)

This episode of Living Jewishly is an instalment of Sacred Time, a podcast devoted to the healing art of the Hebrew calendar. In this episode exploring the significance of the month of Elul, Bluth and Ganga Devi unpack major themes related to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The month of Elul is a time of intimacy, love and relationships. It reminds us that the sacred is in the mundane — we are beloved because we feel G-d every day, in every human and messy moment. Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li is the acronym for Elul and it means “I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me.”

Elul’s reflective energy guides us into the New Year, preparing us for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is our shared story of the birth of the world and humanity, celebrating creation by honouring the Earth and looking forward to our collective future.

Yom Kippur tells the story of the sin of the Golden Calf and the second chance given to humanity. This is a day to practice atonement and forgiveness — so we can enter the New Year with integrity.

By reflecting on the past year, we hold ourselves responsible and accountable so that we are able to cleanse and renew. In doing so, we return to Elul’s beloved meditation on loving and forgiving ourselves as well as others.

Confusing Satan — Pre-Rosh Hashanah Shiur by the Office of Rabbi Sacks

To mark the launch of ‘Ceremony and Celebration: An Introduction to the Holidays,’ Rabbi Sacks delivered a pre-Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur shiur entitled ‘Confusing Satan’. Before listening, you should download the accompanying source sheet here.

The Elul Challenge with Rabbi David Baum

The Elul Challenge is a new project by Congregation Shaarei Kodesh in Boca Raton, Florida. Elul is the Hebrew month of preparation. During this month, we prepare for the Jewish New Year. This podcast, hosted by Rabbi David Baum, will give you a bit of daily inspiration, a clear action you can do to make yourself and the world a better place, and an opportunity to connect with others.

The Power of… Forgiveness

Do you ever feel like you’re not living up to the expectations of others? Why is rejection so scary? What do you do when you just can’t bring yourself to say “I’m sorry?” In this episode, Noam sat with Professor Moshe Halbertal to examine the principles of forgiveness, the art of letting go, and The Shawshank Redemption. Dr. Moshe Halbertal is the John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Thought and Philosophy at the Hebrew University, the Gruss Professor at NYU Law School, a faculty member of Mandel Institute, a member of the Israel’s National Academy for Sciences and the Humanities as well as a published author.

This Jewish Life: The Essence of Elul

These 40 days from the beginning of the month of Elul, the final month in the Jewish calendar, and Yom Kippur are the most powerful days of the year. These 40 days coincide with the 40 days that Moshe was in Heaven for the third 40 day stint when he received the second set of Tablets inscribed by the “finger of God.” Our Sages tell us that this month is “Days of Ratzon“, days of goodwill, days of desire. In this special podcast, we identify the central element of these days and discover the ways to unlock the unlimited power of Elul.