MUNSTER | They stood on the banks of a sun-sparkled pond Thursday throwing pieces of bread upon the water, symbolically casting away their sins at the dawn of a new year.
Called Tashlich, the ceremony at a Hartsfield Village pond across Columbia Avenue from Temple Beth-El concluded the Rosh Hashanah service at the synagogue.
Multiple generations of the congregation walked across the street to follow a tradition that reflects the teachings of the prophets and the significance of water in both the creation of the world and its history.
Rosh Hashanah, called the Day of Judgment, marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, a 10-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance that culminates with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on Sept. 14. It also marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year.
To observe this new beginning, Jews are asked to ask forgiveness for offenses committed against others and to turn from sinful ways.
Tashlich gives Jews the opportunity to symbolically separate themselves from sin, said Rabbi Len Zukrow of Temple Beth-El. “The bread represents sin.”
As he began the ceremony, Zukrow said, “We recall the words of the prophet Ezekiel: ‘Cast away from yourselves all your transgressions. And create within yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.'
“At this place, we not only look at the water and marvel at the many wonders of creation,” he said. “On this day, as we have celebrated the birthday of the world, we stand in awe of all creation.”
The participants brought many kinds of bread to the pond including matzah, the unleavened bread traditionally eaten by Jews during the weeklong Passover holiday in the spring. Sweet rolls, flat bread and pieces of sandwich bread were carried in bags or in pockets.
In a responsive reading, the rabbi and the congregants pledged to cast away the sins of deception, ambition, stubbornness, envy, selfishness, indifference, pride and arrogance in order to serve God better and make the world a better place.
“As you cast even the crumbs from your pockets, think about truly what this moment means,” Zukrow said.
Thrown by arms both strong and feeble, the bread landed in the water as a brisk breeze caused ripples on the pond’s surface and as a duck swam slowly creating its own wake.