A Guided Personal Tashlich

By: Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner

The guided meditation above is based on Tashlich; you can use it as an alternative to an outdoors Tashlich or to enhance the ritual.

Last year for Tashlich, we gathered at Mallett’s Creek on Rosh Hashanah afternoon. We were blessed with a warm autumn late-afternoon sun, and we stood for a long time on the bridge over the creek, singing together: ‘Loosen, loosen baby. You don’t have to carry the weight of the world in your muscles and bones. Let go, let go, let go. Holy breath and Holy Name: will you ease, will you ease this pain.’ 

God-willing, next year we’ll gather and sing together as a community again. For this year, we’re offering a guided personal Tashlich ritual to do on your own, with family, or with friends—please just take care to be COVID-safe.

How to do Tashlich this year:

1. Look for a natural body of water that you can access easily. Tashlich is an invitation to cast our sins away into a body of water like a river, spring, lake, pond, or well. Most people prefer natural, flowing bodies of water because it gives the effect of our past deeds being swept away by the current. If you don’t live near a natural body of water or can’t manage to get to one, you can use running water from a hose or faucet. 

2. Try performing Tashlich on Rosh Hashanah. Tashlich is supposed to be performed on the first or second day of Rosh Hashanah. If, however, you’re unable to perform the ceremony on Rosh Hashanah, Tashlich can be done any day during the Days of Awe until Yom Kippur

3. Examine what you’ve struggled with in the past year before doing Tashlich. Tashlich requires that we review our behavior over the last year before we can cast away our deeds. Remember that everyone struggles with mistakes, misdeeds, and accidents, so don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself during this period of review. Keep in mind, however, that the goal of Tashlich is to move forward in the year, rather than to dwell on the past.

4. Collect your “sins” in your pockets. We have provided you with seeds to act as physical symbols of your sins; seeds are safer than bread for the wildlife that live in nearby creeks. Although some people discourage tossing actual items because it stems from superstitious practices, it can be helpful, especially for young people, to visualize our misdeeds being carried away by the water.

5. Walk to the body of water or basin. As you do, try singing, if it feels appropriate. Here are some possibilities (click on the links to hear the songs):

  1. Eili, Eili: Eili, Eili shelo yigameri l’olam. Hachol v’hayam, rishrush shel hamayim, b’rak hashamayim, t’filat ha-adam.
  2. Hashiveini: Hashiveini, ve’ashuvah x2 Chadeish, chadeish, chadeish, yameinu k’kedem x2
  3. Avinu Malkeinu: Avinu malkeinu, choneinu va-aneinu ki ein banu ma-asim. Asei imanu tzedakah vachesed v’hoshi-einu.

6. Read a biblical prayer. The source passage for Tashlich comes from the last verses of the prophet Micah (7:18-20). These verses tell why we practice Tashlich:

7. Cast your sins into the body of water. After your prayer, reach into your pockets and grab the seeds or metaphorical sins, and throw them into the water. Once you let go of them, breathe out and watch them wash away. Only do this when you feel ready. It might take you longer than some other people to prepare for this moment, but don’t feel rushed. 

‘Who is a God like You, Forgiving iniquity and remitting transgression; Who has not maintained wrath forever against the remnant of God’s own people, Because God loves graciousness, God will take us back in love; God will cover up our iniquities, You will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will keep faith with Jacob, loyalty to Abraham, as You promised on oath.’

8. Offer a prayer about your hope for the year. Talk to God out loud about who you are and who you’d like to be in the coming year. If you need help with words, try answering some of these questions:

  • Am I using my time wisely? If not, how can I?
  • How do I want to be there for the people who need me? 
  • What new insights and knowledge do I want to acquire this year?
  • What would it look like to live more fully this coming year?
  • How can I trust more in You, or, how can I more closely align with what is holy in the world?

Special High Holidays Delivery!

AARC Members Will Receive Tishrei Bags in Support of the High Holidays At Home

The High Holidays cannot help but be different this year, but thanks to the hard work of our Tishrei Bag Committee, all of our members will be able to celebrate with a set of thoughtfully curated items. Engaging with ritual objects is an important part of the chagim; the Tishrei Bag project supports us in uniting with our fellow members from our own homes through the vehicle of these shared objects.

The Tishrei Bags will include:

  • Apples and honey
  • 2 pairs of holiday candles for Erev Rosh Hashana and Erev Yom Kippur
  • A yahrzeit candle for Yizkor
  • Bird seed for Tashlich
  • Recipes
  • Special gifts from Beit Sefer families
  • High Holidays schedule and handouts
  • High Holidays prayer book (machzor)

Members can receive their Tishrei Bags in either of two ways: You can pick your bag at 2815 Pebble Creek on September 13th from 1:30-4 pm, or a member can deliver the bag to your house. If you do not pick up your bag on the 13th, a volunteer will bring it to your home.

A special thank you to the Tishrei Bag Committee: Laurie White, Carol Levin, Clare Kinberg, Jen Hall, and Evelyn Neuhaus. Thank you also to our volunteer delivery crew and to the Meadows family for assembling the bags! It takes a village! Please email us if you have any questions about the Tishrei Bags.

Child and Family Programming for High Holidays 2020

AARC offers an engaging and flexible series of High Holidays learning opportunities and services for children and families, led by AARC Beit Sefer (religious school) Director Clare Kinberg. To take part, please fill out the Child and Family Programming Form; we will respond with the necessary Zoom links.

In order to accommodate the busy schedule of most families, parts of the High Holidays services will be pre-recorded. This allows you to watch the programming at a time that works for your family. Other learning opportunities will take place online via Zoom, to provide our little ones with an opportunity to learn while engaging with one another.

Schedule:

  • Saturday, September 19th, 9:30am. Children’s Activity on Zoom. Fill out the registration form to receive the Zoom link.
  • Saturday, September 19th. Watch Rosh Hashanah Children’s Services at your leisure. Video will be posted here the week before the High Holidays.
  • Monday September 28th, 9:30am. Children’s Activity on Zoom. Fill out the registration form to receive the Zoom link. (You only need to fill out his form once for the High Holidays).
  • Monday September 28th. Watch Yom Kippur Children’s Services at your leisure. Video will be posted here the week before the High Holidays.

If you have any questions about this programming, please email us. We looking forward to sharing this sacred time together!

Rosh Hashanah Children’s Service Video:

High Holiday Workshops 2020

One of the silver linings of the “High Holidays at Home” format is added flexibility with workshop locations, times, and formats. In this spirit, we will be hosting a range of workshops and classes throughout the High Holiday period. Zoom links will be sent out to members in early September. If you would like to attend as a guest, please fill out the High Holidays Registration Form.

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Challah Baking Workshop

Friday September 11th, 10am-noon

Participants will learn how to prepare Challah dough, braid a special Rosh Hashanah crown, and recite special prayers during the preparation. To learn more about Lori’s process, please see our Challah Blog!

This workshop is created and facilitated by AARC member Lori Lichtman.

To attend this class, please sign up here. Zoom link will be sent to registrants before the event.


The Story of Sarah and Hagar in Art, Poetry, and Our Own Reflections

Saturday, September 19th, 2pm

On Rosh Hashanah we read the story of Sarah and Hagar, with its themes of family trauma, isolation, jealousy, survival, and reconciliation. In this workshop, we’ll reflect on how the story of Sarah and Hagar resonates with us today.  We’ll share our reactions to various artistic depictions of the story, read a poem or two, and then exchange our reflections.

This workshop is created and faciliated by AARC member Emily Eisbruch.

To attend this class, sign up here. Zoom link will be sent to registrants before the event.

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Birth/Fertility and Its Opposite: Personal Reflections

Saturday, September 19th, 4pm

In today’s Torah and Haftarah selections, both Sarah and Hannah, after struggles with infertility, are blessed with children. These stories can sometimes be a point of pain for those of us who do not feel like we were so blessed.  What has the journey of fertility and infertility been like for us?  Have your thoughts and feelings changed through the years?  If you have a story or thought you’d like to share, or just want to come and listen to others, please join us on Rosh HaShanah Day 1 afternoon.

This workshop is created and facilitated by AARC member Deb Kraus.

To attend this class, sign up here. Zoom link will be sent to registrants before the event.

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Cultivating Self-Forgiveness: A Practice for the Days of Awe

Thursday, September 24th, 7pm

This experiential offering will guide you through coming into a deep and quiet space within yourself, noticing the ways you may have “missed the mark” this past year, and engaging in a practice of self-forgiveness.

Your participation will require that you have a comfortable and quiet place to sit for 90 minutes; that you have printed off the provided worksheet for self-reflection and have something to write with; and that you have registered so that you can be sent the Zoom link. Our time together will include meditation and guided imagery, journal writing and sharing in pairs or small groups.

This workshop is created and facilitated by AARC member Anita Rubin-Meiller.

Anita is a clinical social worker in private practice with many years of experience in creating and leading workshops and ongoing groups for cultivating self-compassion, self-forgiveness, and compassionate life
review.

To register for this workshop, please email Anita. ______________________________________________________________________________

JONAH (AND THE WHALE): A Teshuva Journey through Art and Midrash with Idelle Hammond-Sass

Sunday September 27, 10am -12pm

Jonah is a traditional Haftarah for the afternoon of Yom Kippur. Join us for this experiential workshop from the comfort of your own home. Gather some art supplies at your desk or kitchen table to make your own ‘visual midrash’!

Using Jonah’s journey as a way in to our own process of Teshuva, we’ll explore Jonah through a brief text reading, followed by drawing to music and reflective writing. Drawing and writing offer two ways to see what comes to the surface, using our imagination to dive deep into the process of making a visual image and seeing what we have created.(optional)

Please bring writing paper, pen/pencil, plain paper 8 ½”x 11 or larger (can be computer paper) any “art” supplies on hand, such as your kids crayons, colored pencils, oil pastels (cray pas), charcoal pencils, markers etc. as well as some random colored paper or magazines (to tear) and a glue stick or tape. Whatever you have around the house is great!

To attend this class, sign up here. Zoom link will be sent to registrants before the event.

AARC To Host A Robust Month of Elul Programming

Throughout history we as Jews have leaned on our traditions to lead us back to ourselves in times of trouble or uncertainty. The month of Elul is one of those traditions: a time of cheshbon hanefesh or an accounting of the soul.

Elul has come at a perfect time this year; many of us are carrying a heavy emotional load due to the current state of affairs. Elul encourages us to take time to look inward and prepare for what’s to come. In this spirit, we are offering a multi-modal Elul experience:

LEARN: Elul Psalms Series, or, What Does a Jew Do With All These Worries, Hopes, and Feelings?

Sunday August 23, 30, and September 6, 2-3:15 pm on Zoom

“All our days slip away.” “Help me stay safe.” “Shield me from the counsel of evil men.” “Look how good and pleasant it was to be together.”

All these phrases are from the Book of Psalms, but they could easily describe our feelings in this moment, too. As we enter into Elul and this unusual season of teshuvah, we’ll use the ancient psalms as an entry point to gentle awareness, creativity, and reflection. Each class will offer a mix of learning, discussion, and writing.

August 23: Introduction and Psalms of Noticing and Gratitude

We’ll talk briefly about what makes a psalm, explore some psalms of gratitude (from the Book of Psalms and contemporary poets), and talk about what it means to be a Jew talking to/about the Holy. Our first writing exercise will serve to ‘prime the pump’ and get words flowing; our second exercise will invite reflection on our values, our voices, and our relationship to the Source. Expect rich discussion and sharing.

August 30: Psalms of Fear and Loss

Today’s focus is psalms of anxiety, fear, and loss. We’ll explore some of these psalms (both classical and contemporary) and then shift into writing together. Our writing exercises will help us give name to our experiences of living through this time of disorientation and grief, and those who wish will be invited to share their reflections in small groups. This session requires particular care because these psalms can evoke or activate difficult emotions. We’ll close this session with a meditative, musical practice designed to help us release our emotions and return to a sense of spiritual safety.

September 6: Psalms of Comfort and Connection

In this session we’ll explore psalms of connection to the Holy and the holiness within ourselves and community. We’ll do a deep dive into a single psalm, exploring how different translations and nuances of language can impact a psalm’s message. We’ll explore psalms both classical and contemporary, and then engage with our final two writing exercises.

LISTEN: Songs of Return, A High Holiday Community Playlist

We’ve started a community playlist on Spotify that already includes some gorgeous niggunim, new melodies, and High Holiday favorites to get us in the teshuvah mood. We want you to listen and enjoy, of course, but also invite you to add your favorites tunes so we can all hear them. To listen, all you need is a free Spotify account. To add music, you’ll need to open the Spotify app on your phone, tablet, or desktop.

BREATHE: Elul Meditation Offerings

A series of pre-recorded meditations from Rabbi Ora and members are now available to stream, below. These themed meditations vary in length and style, and can be listened to on your schedule as many times as you like.

Blessing This Moment (16 min)

Hineini: A Meditation & Chant for Presence (18 min)

Sitting in Divine Light (10+ min)

A Mind-Body-Spirit Integration (6 min)

Gam Zeh Kadosh/This, Too, Is Holy (9+ min)

WRITE: Daily Reflection Prompt

Sign up to receive daily reflection and journalling prompts for the entire month of Elul (August 21-September 18). Created by Rabbi Jordan Braunig, these prompts are “meant to give us time to cozy up to ourselves, to spend a few moments a day with our souls and to maybe learn a thing or two about ourselves.”

SING: Selichot 5780: Creating Holy Space Within

Saturday September 12, 8 pm on Zoom

Our Selichot services will ease us into the High Holy Days with beautiful melodies led by members and Rabbi Ora. In addition to singing and havdalah, we’ll take time to imagine how to create holy space in our hearts and our homes in anticipation of online Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services.

If you have any questions about any of these Elul offerings, please email Gillian.