The days of Elul in the community - Iraq
Four weeks before Rosh Hashanah we began preparations for this awful holiday. Already at the beginning of the month of Elul we would get up early and go to the synagogue to read "Selichot" and pray. It was hard for us to wake up so early - at two-thirty or three after midnight. The synagogue attendants would walk around the neighborhood after midnight and knock on the doors. This was the safest and best way to wake us up for Selichot in the middle of the night. The visit of the beadle was like a live alarm clock.
In the synagogue, the cantor stood with one or two assistants. They would read chapters of "Selichot" in various melodies. The audience would repeat some passages which content is the request for mercy from God.
We called for the month of Elul - the month of mercy. Every child born on this month was called Rahamim (mercy). We knew that at the end of this month the terrible Day of Judgment would come.