Tash­lich ob­servers cast sins into har­bor

Jewish tra­di­tion calls for toss­ing bread crumbs that rep­re­sent sins into mov­ing wa­ter

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Yvonne Wenger ywenger@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/yvon­newenger

Pa­tri­cia Bern­man guided her 5-year-old grand­son around the “Sin Buf­fet” aboard an In­ner Har­bor cruise ship Sun­day, stop­ping to ask whether he had ever failed to be a good friend or if he had pre­tended to be sick when he wasn’t.

The boy, Asher Frad­kin, shook his head no as the pair moved along the ta­ble lined with plates of bread crumbs la­beled with var­i­ous trans­gres­sions — “I lied” and “I cheated” — prompt­ing mem­bers of Bal­ti­more’s Beth Am Syn­a­gogue to re­flect on their wrong­do­ings from the past year.

The cruise of­fered a novel take on the an­cient Tash­lich tra­di­tion in which Jews gather near a flow­ing body of wa­ter af­ter their new year, Rosh Hashana, to cast away bread crumbs rep­re­sent­ing sins.

“It’s won­der­ful when you have an ac­tion that is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of what we’re all try­ing to do: make our­selves bet­ter peo­ple,” said Bern­man, a 25-year mem­ber of the Reser­voir Hill con­gre­ga­tion. “This time of year is all about self re­flec­tion.”

About 200 joined the hour-long Spirit of Bal­ti­more voy­age that pro­vided fel­low­ship and a chance to make the rit­ual ac­ces­si­ble to the youngest mem­bers, said Rabbi Kel­ley Gludt, di­rec­tor of the syn­a­gogue’s con­gre­ga­tional learn­ing.

Gludt said Beth Am’s Tash­lich ser­vices have grown larger each year, and the con­gre­ga­tion has looked to find suit­able places to gather. Druid Lake won’t work be­cause its waters are still, and the park­ing lot is too small at Lake Roland Park (for­merly Robert E. Lee Park), she said.

“There are cer­tain obli­ga­tions you have to have: It has to be run­ning wa­ter and there has to be fish,” Gludt said. “It has to work for tod­dlers and peo­ple with mo­bil­ity is­sues. In Bal­ti­more, you only have so many places you can do this.”

An anony­mous donor paid about $5,000 for the con­gre­ga­tion to take the cruise, which in­cluded a brief ser­vice with prayer, songs and the toss­ing of bread into the Pa­tri­cia Bern­man and her grand­son Asher Frad­kin, 5, cel­e­brate the Jewish tra­di­tion Tash­lich Sun­day aboard the Spirit of Bal­ti­more. har­bor that at­tracted a flock of sea gulls in the ship’s wake.

Be­sides the “Sin Buf­fet,” Gludt set up sev­eral sta­tions to give the mem­bers more op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­flect. One of­fered wash­able mark­ers with sheets of pa­per to write down “some­thing you want to let go in the new year” be­fore soak­ing it with wa­ter to make the ink dis­ap­pear.

Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg, Beth Am’s spir­i­tual leader, said the unique ap­proach to the Tash­lich ser­vice gave the con­gre­ga­tion a chance to prac­tice their faith in a way that was both se­ri­ous and fun.

“In order for some­thing to be mean­ing­ful, it doesn’t have to be somber,” Burg said.

He called on those gath­ered Sun­day to think about the mis­takes they made in the last year and how they can do bet­ter “for God and for one an­other, for our fam­i­lies, for our par­ents, for our chil­dren, for our friends, for our col­leagues and co-work­ers, for our teach­ers and our stu­dents.”

Burg said the more so­ci­ety ad­vances, the more many look for ground­ing in an­cient val­ues and tra­di­tions.

“The idea that we, like gen­er­a­tions of Jews, cen­turies and mil­len­nia be­fore us, can go out to a body of wa­ter and en­act this an­cient tra­di­tion by cast­ing our bread into the wa­ter, it has a cer­tain res­o­nance of au­then­tic­ity that no modern tech­nol­ogy can quite repli­cate,” Burg said.

Brian Whippo and his wife, Mon­ica, stood at the ship’s stern, as he opened a nap­kin and re­leased the bread crumbs he had gath­ered. The Pat­ter­son Park man said he liked the syn­a­gogue’s novel twist on the tra­di­tion, which is part of the rit­u­als of the Jewish High Holy Days that cul­mi­nate later this week with Yom Kip­pur.

“It makes you stop and think about the dif­fer­ent ways you could have done bet­ter, and you lit­er­ally have to pick the bread crumbs up and throw them away and be done with your past mis­takes,” Whippo said.


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