Tashlikh (Tashlich) Enhanced
A way to infuse this Rosh Hashanah ritual with extra meaning.
This tashlikh ceremony was composed to be used at a gathering of women, providing both a "safe space" for women to examine their lives and a place for women to think critically about their various communities. However, with very few minor changes this ceremony could be used with any group of adults. Reprinted with permission from Ritualwell.org.
Tashlikh, meaning "cast away," is a ritual performed on Rosh Hashanah as a physical reminder of the human effort to cast away one's sins. By casting crumbs of bread into the water and reciting the verse from Isaiah-- "cast all our sins into the ocean's depths"--we state our intention to return to our true selves. For many Jews, Rosh Hashanah is a time for reciting many words. Through Tashlikh, we use our bodies and actions to do the work of return. Although the rabbinic authorities originally objected to this ritual, Jews stubbornly performed it until it became a "traditional" part of the holiday.
Tashlikh can be a time for women to gather in a safe environment, consider their lives together, and examine the ways of their community. How have we grown as individuals and as women? How have we fallen short? How have the larger Jewish and secular communities supported us? How have they failed us? This ceremony, designed by the Ma'yan staff, gives women a place to be open about the truths of their lives and to share deeply with one another.
Tashlikh should be performed near a body of water so that the ritual of casting away can be performed. If you have no body of water, use a large bowl or bucket.
Opening Song or Niggun (Wordless Song)
Set the tone for the ritual in the first few moments. If your ritual occurs on a weekday evening, begin with song to slowly transition people out of the workday and the busy-ness of the workweek into a quiet and contemplative space. Find a song leader--someone who can teach new pieces and encourage participants to join in. Make sure to provide a song sheet with all of the words and liturgy that you will be using throughout the ritual (with English translations and transliteration of the Hebrew).
Possible songs include Hannah Senesh's Eli, Eli; Min Hameitzar;Return Again; and many niggunim.
Introduction to the Ritual of Tashlikh
Once you have established the tone, begin the ritual with some background or a small teaching about Tashlikh. You might want to include the following:
-Some historical background about Tashlikh(see Seasons of our Joy or other holiday guide)
-An explanation of the Hebrew word: Tashlikh, meaning "to cast off;" also related to shalekhet, the word that describes a tree that sheds its leaves.
-A short discussion about teshuvah (return) and the contemplative and introspective time that tradition gives us during the month of Elul.