The Elul Project

The Elul Project: 5781

Renew our days as in the past or renew our days as in the beginning.

This phrase, which is sung at the conclusion of every Torah service, originates from the Book of Lamentations recited on Tisha B’av. It expresses the hope that God will restore our days to resemble a time before the destruction of the Temple. The final word, kedem, not only evokes longing for a past time, but a primordial time, a beginning time, when the world was freshly born, creation. Furthermore, the root letters of kedem, kuf-dalet-mem, yield a number of additional meanings. Derived from kadim, which means east, kuf-dalet-mem also paradoxically points to the future and is used to convey forward motion. Kuf-dalet-mem connects a sense of progress and development not only to the past, but to a time that is essentially new.

We are living in a period of global mourning, uncertainty, transition, reflection, and hope. What have we been through, who are we now, and where are we going? This Elul, what does it mean to move forward? What role does looking back, remembering, and restoring play in our personal and collective progress? And how might we be guided by the vision of a new world?


Day 1: Lamentations 5:22 Day 2: Leonard Cohen – By the Rivers Dark Day 3: Franz Kafka – Words on waiting and solitude 
Day 4: Asa – Fire on the Mountain Day 5: Amos Oz – A Tale of Love and Darkness Day 6: Pirkei Avot
Day 7: יום שישי Yom shishi – Yehuda Poliker Day 8: Amos Imre, Before my Great-Grandmother’s Mirror Day 9: James Baldwin – The Artist Struggle for Integrity
Day 10: Ira Glass – The Weight of Words (This American Life) Day 11: Yehudah Halevi, translated in Mishkan T’filah Day 12: Habanot Nechama – So Far
Day 13: Hatikvah—Israeli National Anthem by Naftali Herz Imber Day 14: Time Spirals and Other Insights Into the Jewish Calendar Day 15: Adi Nes and The Last Supper Before Going Out to Battle 
Day 16: Dan Nichols – This is Why I Sing Day 17: John Burroughs and something new Day 18: Yehuda Amichai – A Child is Something Else Again
Day 19: Amos Imre – Dreamer Day 20: Maimonides – The Guide for the Perplexed Day 21: Muriel Rukeyser – To be a Jew in the twentieth century
Day 22: Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet Day 23: Nancie S. Martin – Turning  Day 24: Azov, by Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express
Day 25: Morning Blessing from Mishkan T’Filah Day 26: הישן יתחדש והחדש יתקדש – Rav Abraham Isaac Kook  Day 27: Muriel Rukeyser – Fragile
Day 28: Rabbi Maggie Wenig – God is a Woman and She is Growing Older  Day 29: Amanda Gorman – The Miracle of Morning  

Click on the button below to view all of the readings for The Elul Project: 5781 in a single document.

5781 Elul Readings