Tashlikh; to cast off
For my final project, I lead our class down to the James river, to lead and foster a group participation in a jewish ceremony. Tashlikh traditionally occurs alongside the Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah. However, the day of my event, happened to coincide with Passover. Rosh Hashanah is both a day of judgment, and one of redemption. I can only speak to Ashkenazi jews; but we as a whole carry layers of generation strife, grief and adversity. New Year acts as a loophole, in a sense, to the traditional chaos of our world. Whether you choose to celebrate on the day of Rosh Hashanah, or pick a day at random, it is the importance of setting aside time to remember.
I made sure to include three major components in my ceremony.
One: Writing ones sins/mistakes. Although all research indicated that you are to cast off crumbs, pocket lint or dust, I decided differently for mine. It is one thing to visualize mentally your issues, but it is another to translate them into written language.
Two: in the ceremony of Tashlikh, and in Judaism, water holds specific value and meaning. According to research, the earliest mention of this custom is from the 15th century… “the sight of water on new year’s day is intended to recall how the world we live in was crafted our of watery chaos.” From the same text, also cites one rabbi who claims the purpose of visiting rushing water is “to observe the fish… as mankind in ‘as the fishes that are caught in an evil net.’” Whatever greater context water may serve, I view moving water as our inner selves, our rushing blood. There is never any growth with stillness.
Three: One of the main traditions of Passover is the gathering of family and friends in Seder. Almost every jewish holiday evokes a large family gathering and dinner. Partaking in a meal together or ‘breaking the bread’ strengthens the bond of a community. The Seder ceremony is a unique and inspiring blend of the past, present and future into a single experience.
Between my mother and father, I come from two vastly different perspectives on Judaism. From my father, our family immigrated to the United States from Ukraine and Russia in the late 1800’s. My mother converted on her own accord. I’ve been raised with two vastly different perspectives into the Jewish world. My first experience with education was at Temple Shalom, in a Jewish pre-schooling program. Here, in my last year of college, I have spent time reflecting on the little kid I was, what mattered to me then, what shaped me in that space, and how did that mold me into the person I am today. You don’t have to be born Jewish to practice Judaism. One thing I truly love about Judaism is the sense of community, our helping hands.