An Opportunity to Begin Elul in Reflection – Rabbi Joshua Caruso on upcoming guest speaker Yvonne Pointer

“I witnessed two miracles in the month of May. First was that Georgina, Amanda and Michelle were found, and second was the arrest in Gloria’s case. So I do believe in miracles. You’ve just got to keep hope alive. These are the words of local Cleveland author, activist and motivational speaker Yvonne Pointer. This week on Friday, August 9, the first Shabbat of the Hebrew month of Elul, we will welcome Yvonne Pointer as our guest speaker, in an important message that we believe will remind us of the importance of this month of Elul, which stands apart as
Rabbi Caruso
Rabbi Caruso
perhaps the most substantial of months in the Jewish calendar.
This week we usher in Elul, we realize the month features no Jewish holidays, but it remains significant because it anticipates our High Holy Days. When Elul arrives, our tradition demands that we all begin examining our deeds of the past year to best prepare for the first day of next month, Rosh Hashanah, our New Year, and the arrival 10 days later of Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement. Preparation takes many forms, and this Shabbat, as we hear from Yvonne Pointer at Fairmount Temple, we offer a special opportunity to engage in the process of personal reflection.

Please join us for this Friday’s (Aug. 9) Kabbalat Shabbat service at 6:15 pm when we welcome Yvonne Pointer, whose personal story is both heartbreaking and inspirational. Ms. Pointer, whose daughter was slain 29 years ago, has spent the last decades utilizing her unique gifts as a motivational speaker and anti-violence advocate to seek out healing in the most unusual of places, including her work with incarcerated inmates in the penal system.

I was honored to speak with Ms. Pointer this past week, and I can say that her perspective on the universal values of forgiveness and redemption offers us a unique opportunity to begin preparing our hearts for the upcoming Holy Days. Moreover, our guest’s anti-violence work in the community speaks to the critical and ongoing work of the Criminal Justice team of Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC).

I look forward to seeing many of you at services this Friday evening, as we all prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

Rabbi Joshua Caruso

P.S. Here are a couple of links to recent stories about Yvonne Pointer:

Click here for article about Yvonne Pointer in last week’s Cleveland Jewish News

Click here for a feature in this month’s Cleveland Magazine