Last week we celebrated Rosh Hashanah -- the Jewish New Year. One of our favorite rituals associated with this holiday is called "Tashlich" which means "casting off" in Hebrew.

Tashlich is thought to have originated during the Middle Ages inspired by a verse attributed to the prophet Micah:
God will take us back in love;
God will cover up our iniquites,
You [God] will hurl all our sins
Into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19)

To perform the ritual of Tashlich, one symbolically casts off one's wrong-doings or transgressions of the previous year by tossing bread crumbs into a body of water. As the bread crumbs are carried away (or eaten by fish) one's sins are symbolically cast away, giving the opportunity for a fresh start in the New Year.
My husband and I first observed Tashlich together in 2001, the week after 9/11. The world had suddenly become sadder and scarier. As we performed Tashlich, I looked out and saw sea lions on the rocks 20 yards from shore. They were peaceful basking in the bleak Autumn sun. The world had changed for us, but it had not changed for them, and that was comforting.

This year we performed Tashlich at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve -- a tide pool wonderland where, if you look carefully, you can find turban snails & hermit crabs, star fish & sea anemone, sea cucumbers, several types of small fish (the names of which escape me at the moment...) and beautiful sea lions basking nearby on the rocks.

As you can see in the photos, we do not have "sunshine & palm tree" type beaches in Northern California (if you want sunshine and palm trees, you'd best head for Southern California, Hawaii or Florida...) Around here, we bundle up in pull-overs & hats when we head to the beach. Our beaches are gray, blustery and cold -- with those soulful-eyed sea lions who just might be related to the selkies of Ireland...

A few years ago I was doing some research about Tashlich and stumbled on this sweet story called "Breadcrumbs & Magic." Maybe it will inspire you to head to your local beach (or body of water) for a bit of spiritual cleansing. Either way, I wish you Shana Tova -- a Good Year, a Sweet Year.

Shana Tova...

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