The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is almost upon us. One of the beautiful customs of the holiday is Tashlich, the ritual tossing of our sins in preparation for coming year.
After the first morning service of Rosh Hashanah, a congregation or family, goes to a body of water to perform the ritual. The water should be moving: a stream, a river, or even the ocean. These waters are called Mayim Chayim, living waters.
The Tashlich ceremony consists of a relatively short liturgy and then each person in attendance throws breadcrumbs, symbolizing the sins of the past year, into the water. It is ritual of purification and helps prepare Jews for the New Year.
This year, the ritual has even more meaning. The long year of COVID has kept many of us isolated. Coming together in Jewish community to do a ritual in person will be very powerful.
COVID has also given many of us a deeper appreciation of nature. Many of us have spent more time outside since the beginning of the pandemic. We have watched the seasons change in a new way. We have also gained much solace from the outdoors.
As the human world was coming to a halt, nature maintained its cycles. In a time of confusion and fear, the sense of the natural world’s constancy gave many of us support and comfort.
This year, Beth Israel Congregation of Salisbury will continue our COVID tradition of performing the Tashlich ritual at the River Amphitheater at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
Before COVID, the ritual was relatively short. Now, however, we have enriched it. Instead of spending most of the Rosh Hashanah service indoors, we’ll be bringing some of the most powerful imagery outside into the physical world.
While other Jewish holidays celebrate aspects of Jewish history, one of the main themes of Rosh Hashanah is that of creation. Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year.” It refers to the idea that this holiday is the first day of the year.
However, Rosh Hashanah is also understood to be the metaphorical first day of the Earth. It is seen as Earth’s birthday. What better way to celebrate Jewish Earth Day than to be out in the creation that we are celebrating.
It is also very powerful to hear the Shofar, the ram’s horn, blown outdoors. The sound of the ram’s horn, a natural instrument, is very emotionally evocative.
Jews understand that this is an alarm clock, reminding us of many things at once: we are time-limited creatures, judgment is coming, and we have this moment to change our ways and return to our best selves. The sound can feel like God’s voice calling us to holy living.
For more information about this service or about Beth Israel, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-742-2564. Our Facebook page is : https://www.facebook.com/BethIsraelSalisbury