Introduction ~ Rabbi David Wolpe


We think of self-examination during the month of Elul as a path to repentance. But it is more fundamental than a step toward something else: We examine ourselves to know who we are. Our darkness and our sins are part of us, stitched into our soul. Without coming to grips with what you have done wrong, you can never understand your own soul.

Our character is reflected in our actions and our relationships. But neither is the whole story. Some revelations call for introspection. Who am I? Have I become the person I was meant to be, or am I betraying or trivializing my destiny?

Look at a picture of your childhood self. Would that child be proud of the adult you have become? No one else on earth can answer that for you. Elul calls us to be deep sea divers into our souls. The stories in this book will serve as a spur to self-reflection. This is a time of year for repentance — acknowledgment, reparations, healing.

Equally it is a time for discovery. Only by apprehending who we are can we shape real hopes about who we might become. Forge ahead without fear into the mystery of your own soul and emerge wiser this year, and kinder.

David Wolpe is the Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.

A Note from Craig Taubman


How do you measure 10 years of life?

10 years is a fifth of my adult life, a third of my marriage.

10 years is a third of my children’s lives, a decade in which they moved out and became independent adults.

10 years marks my transition from leading Friday Night Live at Sinai, to running a multi-faith cultural arts center at the first home of Sinai Temple.

10 years is a basket which holds personal battles with the deaths of family members, pets, and friends – even as I am blessed to have my parents and Louise’s parents in my life.

10 years is the life of a book- of Jewels, that keeps writing itself through remarkable people sharing perspectives.

In these past 10 years I have also witnessed contributors leave jobs, start new work, retire, marry, divorce, graduate, transition, and pass away. If I were Jacob, the past 10 years have been the angel I struggle with in wakefulness and in sleep – making my mind stronger, and my body a little less strong. I have become a more independent thinker, and more dependent on the support of family and friends. I think the late composer Jonathan Larson captured my feelings best:

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?
How about love? Measure in love.

To a year full of seasons of love.

Craig Taubman is the producer of Jewels of Elul.

Coming Soon – Jewels of Elul XI

Jewels of Elul XINow in its eleventh year, Jewels of Elul is a booklet filled with short, inspirational insights from 29 contributors selected from our previous 10 editions. We’d love to know what your favorite Jewel is! Email to share it with us at!

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