Tashlich, Casting Off

With the end of Aseret Yemei T’shuvah – Ten days of repentance upon us, I find myself reflecting and preparing. These appear to be contradicting action verbs – reflecting implies looking back onto a past that I cannot change, which includes moments and actions I regret. Preparing implies looking forward to a future I cannot fully envision with the intention of making changes that will avoid the mistakes of the past. Harder than looking forward is letting go of the past.

Letting go of moments of shame and regret is hard. As human beings, we sometimes need a tangible way of letting go. Tashlich, casting off, is a beautiful traditional ritual that involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or another food into a body of flowing water.

At Carmel, we teach our students how to let go. Rather than tossing bread, which would be ecologically irresponsible, our students tossed water soluble, non-toxic paper into our campus stream. From our youngest to our oldest, our students wrote individual reflections on this special paper and cast their reflections off into the water. In developmentally appropriate ways our students discussed with their teachers the importance of Tashlich and how it gives us the tools to take stock of who we are and make decisions about who we wish to be in the new year.

Students were asked to look critically at themselves and think about things they didn’t wish to carry with them into the New Year. The individual grade ceremonies included a special walk through our beautiful campus to the stream, songs and stories. Enjoy this video of our students as they perform Tashlich and reflect on what changes they would like to make in 5777.

As Yom Kippur approaches this evening, I too have taken stock of my year and have attempted to let go of things I do not wish to carry onto 5777. As it is tradition, I ask you for mechilah, forgiveness, for anything I may have done, intentionally or unintentionally, to hurt you or dismiss you.

With warm wishes for an easy fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur.

May you, your families, friends and community, be inscribed in the Book of Life!