At midnight I arise to praise you…
On Saturday evening, September 8, we will gather in our congregations across the world forS’lichot. S’lichot are penitential prayers that we recite before Rosh Hashanah. Some people recite them every day during the month of Elul, while others begin the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashanah.
S’lichot is the kick off of the High Holy Day season. It is a beautiful service with moving music. It is the first service of the season where we hear Ki Anu Amecha, Ashamnu, Al Chet, and other High Holy Day blessings and melodies. At Temple Sinai we have added an incredibly special and moving piece to the service. After Havdalah and before S’lichot blessing begin, we allow the congregation to read through some meditations and prayers while we change the mantles the five Torah scrolls in our ark. We remove the multi-colored mantles that protect our Torahs throughout the year, and replace them with white mantles designed for the High Holy Days. Five families are honored every year as mantle-changers, and as the Torah scrolls are being changed, the clergy change out of the black, blue, or brown suits that we wear throughout the year and don our High Holy Day white robes. It is a visual representation of Isaiah’s injunction to allow our crimson sins to become snow white. We physically whiten ourselves and our Torahs so that we can prepare to spiritually purify ourselves in the coming weeks.