cultures, traditions and faiths offer the opportunity for renewal, for self-awareness and self-improvement. We need not be laden with shame to make the best of such an opportunity. In fact, the burden of shame can hold us back and keep us in a perceived state of hopeless disrepair. While some belief systems speak of sin, of grave error, or unworthiness, our healthiest self will flourish best with encouragement, hope and possibility, just as children will do when given that loving space in which to grow.
As many of you are aware, this week we welcome in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, the Hebrew year 5773. I am no theologian and cannot say I follow any particular path with firm adherence, but I love marking the seasons with a bit of prayer and some special recipes. I will seize this opportunity to reflect on the year just passed and how I've grown and changed for the better and where I hope to grow and change in the days to come. I urge any who read this, whatever your beliefs, to try and do the same.
A Jewish tradition carried out on the first day of Rosh Hashanah is the ritual of Tashlich. One goes to a body of water and throws bread crumbs or torn pieces of bread and in doing so asks the Diety to accept one's character defects, flaws, mistakes, and blunders of the past year and remove the burden of them. I will visit the lake near my home and cast my bread upon its waters and let go of all that burdens me.
Rabbi and poet Rachel Barenblat, lovingly known as the Velveteen Rabbi, has shared her simple and poetic Tashlich prayer this year for the blessing of all who wish to share it this Rosh Hashanah.
Prayer for Tashlich
May your New Year be sweet.
Photos © Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, 2012