Finding a Home for the Yamim Noraim: Notes from the Welcoming Shuls Project

אַחַת  שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת־יְהֹוָה אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית־יְהֹוָה כׇּל־יְמֵי חַיַּי

One thing I ask of Hashem, only that do I seek: to live in the house of Hashem all the days of my life.

In just two days, we will start reciting this verse as part of the psalm for the month of Elul. It reminds us of the importance of place, and the longing to have access to a holy space and community in order to serve Hashem.

From the beginning of Elul through Simchat Torah, we embark on a journey of self-reflection throughout the month of Elul, teshuva and tefillah during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, and end on a celebratory note as we connect and rejoice with our community on Sukkot and celebrate the renewal of the reading of our beloved Torah. This process is uplifted and supported when we are surrounded by a community in which we are on this journey together.

This time of year reminds me of the importance of the work Eshel does with shuls, schools, and communities. Through our Welcoming Shuls Project, we have spoken with over 250 Rabbis and community leaders about how their community can welcome and accept LGBTQ+ members.

As we approach the Yamim Noraim, I encourage you to reach out and take advantage of these resources. Whether you are looking for a community to call home, or if you’ll be away and need a space to daven where you will be accepted, I would love to talk to you. If you have questions about a Rabbi or community that we haven’t interviewed yet, I would be most happy to start a conversation with them.

Wishing all of us a season filled with the warmth of community and acceptance in our observant Jewish lives. 


Dr. Sunnie Sterling Epstein

Email to learn more about Welcoming Shuls in your area.