Tashlich: Cleansing Tradition for the Jewish New Year

Sarah Ritchie Celebrations, featured post Leave a Comment

As I’ve said many times, I’m always looking for a new beginning, so I am energized by the idea of honoring various New Year celebrations around the world, including the autumn Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.  These most Holy days are a way to consider the prior year and mark the fresh start of the New Year, 5781. 

In casting off disappointments of the prior year, I’ve recently learned about the custom of Tashlich on the afternoon of the first day or Rosh Hashanah.  Jewish people gather at a body of water—the sea, a lake or bank of the river—to cast off, symbolically, their sins.   According to Ronald Tauber’s The Little Book of Jewish Celebrations explains that this custom is most probably derived from the passage in Micah 7:19, “He [God] will cast all of our sins into the depts of the sea.” 

The ritual, also includes reciting prayers and psalms with people throwing breadcrumbs or small stones into the water to dramatize the casting away of sin.   Water is such a powerful symbol of cleansing and renewal, as it is during this beautiful tradition.  The photo above features UN officials “casting their sins,” onto the East River in New York City.

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