September 21, 2018 – 21 Elul 5779
Coming from the Hebrew word for “forgiveness” and a liturgical poem whose subject is a plea for the forgiveness of sins, Selichot is a service of penitential prayers that are recited on all fast days, periods of special intercession and during the penitential season, which begins before Rosh Hashanah and concludes with Yom Kippur.
The Sephardic community recites the Selichot for the 40 days from the first of Elul (the month before Tishrei, the beginning of the Jewish New Year) to the Day of Atonement. The Ashkenazic community, on the other hand, begins reciting the prayers on the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah.
In America, a late Saturday evening service has become the customary practice. The liturgy and music of the Selichot service are intended to instill a mood of solemnity that serves as a prelude to the sacred themes of the High Holy Day season.
For more information, consult our High Holy Days Guide.