Shielagh Shusta Hochberg, Ph.D. - Personal Growth Throughout the Life Cycle
Meditations and Reflections

Seizing An Opportunity for Renewal: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year

September Rainbow
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
Here I am again
ready to let go of my mistakes.
Help me to release myself
from all the ways I've missed the mark.
Help me to stop carrying
the karmic baggage of my poor choices.
As I cast this bread upon the waters
Lift my troubles off my shoulders.
Help me to know that last year is over,
washed away like crumbs in the current.
Open my heart to blessing and gratitude
Renew my soul as the dew renews the grasses.
And we say together:
L'Shanah Tova,
May your New Year be sweet.
Photos © Shielagh Shusta-Hochberg, 2012

4 Comments to Seizing An Opportunity for Renewal: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year:

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Rabbi Rachel Barenblat on Thursday, September 13, 2012 7:34 PM
Thanks for the kind words and for sharing my poem here! I wish you every blessing in the new year.
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Dr. Shielagh on Thursday, September 13, 2012 9:18 PM
Thank you for stopping by this blog, Rabbi Barenblat. I am so touched to receive your blessing! All the best to you as well in the New Year.

Namskers on Friday, September 14, 2012 7:27 PM
Thank you for this lovely post, and for the reminder of the virtues of the holiday that can often get lost in the shuffle of complicated meals, managing many guests, disruption of routines, and other stresses... Let alone the additional spiritual burden of knowing oneself in the honest places that some may wish to keep veiled most of the time--because of that sneaky, disabling shame... The reality of renewal, opportunity, new-light and re-alignment, re-dedication to a life worth living and a concienece that is easy to meet in the mirror come evening...--these are the biggest things in this holiday in my view. The revisiting of what was promised to one's soul and the connections one has to spirit and guidance and bigger-than-yourself being in the world. It is BIG. It is all-possible. It is serious, but need not be tedious or critical. So...whether you toss bread crumbs into the water (as many do) or use a symbolic movement of tossing of the sins from one's pockets of self into the body of water (as many do)... May this time of cleansing and renewal be a good time, and a sign for better, healthier, more joyful times to come. And I LOVE the photos! Shana Tova!
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Dr. Shielagh on Friday, September 14, 2012 7:48 PM
Namskers, I loved what you wrote! As one who has grown up in these traditions, you know whereof you speak, and I appreciate your sharing it here. Shana Tova to you!
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