High Holy Days calendar: Tashlich and Kever Avot




Temple Adat Elohim, Sept. 21, 5 p.m. Oak Canyon Park, 5600 Hollytree Drive, Oak Park. (805) 497-7101. adatelohim.org.


Temple Aliyah, Sept. 24, 4 p.m. Westward Beach at Point Dume, Lifeguard Tower 5, 6800 Westward Beach Road, Malibu. (818) 346-3545, templealiyah.org.


Shomrei Torah Synagogue, Sept. 24, 5 p.m. Between Adamson House and Malibu Pier, 23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. (818) 346-0811. shomreitorahsynagogue.org.



Beth Chayim Chadashim, Sept. 22, 4:30 p.m. Meet at south end of Parking Lot 5, 2600 Barnard Way, Santa Monica. (323) 931-7023. bcc-la.org.

Beth Shir Shalom, Sept. 21, 4 p.m. Beach at the end of Pico Boulevard. (310) 453-3361. bethshirshalom.org.

IKAR, Sept. 24, 4p.m. Meet at Lifeguard Station 26 at Ocean Park Boulevard. (323) 634-1870. ikar-la.org.

Temple Israel of Hollywood, Sept. 21, 4 p.m. Meet at Lifeguard Station 12 (parking at Lot 3 North). (323) 876-8330. tioh.org.


Nashuva, Sept. 21, 5:45 p.m. Please dress casually in white and consider a sweater. Bring a percussion instrument and bread for throwing. Venice Beach where Venice Boulevard meets the sand (approximate address: 1 N. Venice Blvd., Venice). nashuva.com.

Mishkon Tephilo, Sept. 21, 5:30 p.m. Bring the entire family and a dairy or pareve picnic and beach towels. Rabbi Gabriel Botnick will lead a brief and water-related singing service. Where Navy Street meets the beach. (310) 392-3029. www.mishkon.org.


Leo Baeck Temple, Sept. 21, 5 p.m. Will Rogers State Beach (intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Temescal Canyon Road). Lifeguard Tower 7. (310) 476-2861. leobaecktemple.org.

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, Sept. 21, 5 p.m. Bring pieces of bread to throw as well as a picnic dinner to enjoy. Will Rogers State Beach, Pacific Coast Highway and Temescal Canyon Road, Lifeguard Tower 8. (310) 276-9776. tebh.org.


All held on Sept. 24


10 a.m. Free. Eden Memorial Park, 11500 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills. (818) 361-7161. eden-memorialpark.com.


10 a.m. Free. Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, 6001 W. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 641-0707. hillsidememorial.org.


11 a.m. Home of Peace, chapel, 4334 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 261-6135. homeofpeacememorialpark.com.


Services will be led at two sites: 10 a.m. Free. Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles; 1 p.m. Free. Mount Sinai Simi Valley, 6150 Mount Sinai Drive, Simi Valley. (866) 717-4624. mountsinaiparks.org.


Refreshments served at 9 a.m. with a 10 a.m. service. Free. 13017 Lopez Canyon Road, Sylmar. (310) 659-3055. sholomchapels.com.

Tashlich in Los Angeles

At tashlich, I always find a place on the edge of the circle in whose center stands my wife.     

My wife, Rabbi Naomi Levy, is the one leading the event, and she stands surrounded by concentric circles of congregants who have come to Venice Beach on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, to observe one of Judaism’s most ingenious ancient rituals.

I call them congregants, but many actually aren’t. They see a crowd dressed mostly in white, or hear the beat of drums, or the sound of the shofar, or maybe Naomi’s voice, and like passersby drawn to a restaurant by the smell of barbecue, these people who didn’t even know they were spiritually hungry leave the Venice Boardwalk behind and tread across the sand toward us. Soon, there are 1,000 souls, and more keep coming.

At the edge of the circle, I can hear them as they approach.

“Oh, that’s that horn thing,” a young woman in a Speedo bikini points to the shofar.

An Israeli turns to his friends as they walk their rented bikes across the sand. “Ma zeh, Yehudim?”  “What’s that, Jews?”

I called tashlich ancient, but it really just feels that way.  There’s no mention of it in Jewish literature until the 13th century, which by Jewish standards makes it cutting edge. At some point, Jews took the words of the prophet Micah from the Rosh Hashanah liturgy to heart: “And You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Tashlich is Hebrew for “You will cast.” They decided to find the nearest body of free-flowing water in which to throw breadcrumbs.

Rabbinic authorities resisted the ritual. They worried Jews would assume the act itself had magical powers and so refuse to do the more important work of repentance and change. But standing on the fringe of this massive group, breathing the sea air, watching gulls bank and soar overhead — I can see why the rabbis’ objections didn’t stand a chance. Add a drum circle — hundreds of people beating, rattling and shaking to a rhythm that seems to rise from the sea itself — and I can also understand the rabbis’ fear: It is magical.  

The irony of the High Holy Days is that too many of us spend hours we don’t have praying in a language we don’t understand to a God we don’t believe in. Tashlich is the better way in: It just asks us to go outside, find some water, let go.

Still, I stay on the edge, a spiritual diffident. Partly because, as much as I love the music, I’m not that guy who gets lost in the vibe. On a good day, I can stay on beat about a third of the time. If there’s any actual harmonizing involved, trust me, you want me outside your circle.

But from the edge I can take in the scene. I watch my wife in her element, singing, leading prayer, lifting souls. So much of what we pray for on the Days of Awe is to return to whom we truly are, to what we are meant to be. I watch her and see exactly what that means.  

The drumming stops. The shofar blows. We head down to the water.  

People who brought bread pass their extras to the newcomers. The tide is always out. It’s Venice, so it’s always beautiful. The first group of seagulls has now attracted a hungry swarm. 

The waves crash, thin down, and rush over bare ankles.  Kids screech in delight. I recite blessings from a Xeroxed sheet, then, with my best heave, I arc a stale slice of bread toward the foam. Sometimes a seagull will wheel down and snatch it in midair. If that happens, I wonder, does it count?

Doesn’t matter, I decide.  The rabbis didn’t like tashlich, leaving the rulebook to the folk. I’ve read that the Chasidim of Galicia made little rafts of straw, set them on fire, and pushed them into the water, so their sins would burn and sink. The Kurdish Jews leapt fully clothed into the sea, so their sins would wash away. Every year I think I’ll just jump in the water myself. Every year I decide rather than swim publicly at dusk, I’ll swim the next day, alone, at dawn.

A thousand people fan out along the shore. Some are alone, some are hand-in-hand. Some hold their small children, letting them toss crumb after crumb to invisible fish. Whatever noises the waves make, the shofar blowers lined up at the water’s edge send them back out.

By now, the sun is setting low. I find a bit of solitude closer to the break. The ocean stretches to the horizon. Soggy heels of rye and shreds of goopy challah graze my calves.  

I think of the prophet Jonah, whom God cast into the sea like so much bread. Jonah was not drowned, but returned to shore, transformed.  

One big breath — inhale, exhale — and I am exactly where I need to be. Right in the center. Amen.

Shanah tovah.

ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism and @RobEshman.

What shall live and what shall die?

As I recited the climactic “Who shall live and who shall die” prayer during Rosh Hashanna services this year, it struck me that maybe I should replace the “who” with “what.”

The “who” is connected to survival: Who will be inscribed in the Book of Life, and who will not. We make a very big deal about this, for obvious reasons. Survival is the ultimate bottom line, especially for a persecuted people that has learned over the millennia never to take life for granted.  

At the same time, though, Judaism is about a lot more than survival. Our holy texts focus not on how to survive but how to thrive. And in Judaism, thriving is very much about refining our characters and leading meaningful lives.

In that context, what really counts is not “who” but “what”: What character traits will help me lead a meaningful life, and what traits will get in the way?

If traits like joy, optimism, compassion and alertness will help me thrive, then I should pray that those traits shall live. And if traits like fear, depression, anger and bitterness will hurt me, then I should pray that those traits shall die.

Just as we’re pretty specific with our personal accounting at this time of year—what we did wrong, who we hurt, etc.— it’s worth being specific about the character traits we will need to keep, and those we will need to shed, in order to transform our lives and fully repent.

So, as we throw our sins away, let's also throw away the character traits that may have led to those sins. And as we reflect on the good we have done during the past year, let's hold on tight to those traits that have led to that goodness.

God can decide who shall live; we can decide who shall thrive, and with what. 

David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

Hebrew word of the week: Tashlich

This is the famous prayer recited on the Jewish New Year near some water source into which we cast all our sins. Based on Micah 7:19: “You will hurl (ve-tashlich) all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

The root sh-l-k(h) is less known than its closely related prolific sh-l-H (with Het) “to send (away), dismiss, free (slaves), expel, divorce; strip bare, flay, slough (Aramaic),” and probably to sh-l-y  / n-sh-l “draw out” (Exodus 3:5); shilyah “placenta.”

Other words from sh-l-kh are shallekhet “falling (of leaves),” which seems like a metaphor for falling sins as well.

In the Judeo-Arabic of Iraq, like Yiddish and Ladino, there were loanwords from Hebrew, including  ishlikhu bi-nTilah “Discard it at Ntilah (hand washing) ritual,” Don’t let it (an insult, etc.) upset you!

Yona Sabar is a professor of Hebrew and Aramaic in the department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures at UCLA.

Free High Holy Days services

Erev Rosh Hashanah: Sept. 13

Rosh Hashanah, first day: Sept. 14

Rosh Hashanah, second day: Sept. 15

Kol Nidre: Sept. 22

Yom Kippur: Sept. 23


Los Angeles-area Chabads offering free services to the public during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur include Chabad of Beverlywood: (310) 836-6770; Chabad of Century City: (310) 505-2168; Chabad of Miracle Mile: (323) 852-6907; Chabad of Simcha Monica: (310) 829-5620; Chabad of Woodland Hills: (818) 348-5898; Chabad of Toluca Lake: (818) 308-4118; and Chabad of Greater Los Feliz: (323) 660-5177. For more venues, visit chabad.org.



For families with third- through seventh-graders, these free services feature a full band, interactive stories, high-energy music and inclusive participation. Led by Rabbi Jonathan Bubis. Babysitting available for children ages 2 to 5. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 10:30 a.m. Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m. Reservations required. Shomrei Torah, 7353 Valley Circle Blvd., West Hills. (818) 346-0811. stsonline.org.


For parents who want to attend services with young children (preschool to second grade; older siblings permitted), these free, 30-minute Reform services are for you. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 4 p.m. Yom Kippur: 3:30 p.m. No reservation necessary. Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. (805) 497-7101. adatelohim.org.


Geared toward families with children 8 and younger, these hourlong services offer opportunities for children and adults to join in traditional and contemporary song and prayer while sharing in stories and Torah readings reflecting the mood of the season. Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6 p.m. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 8:30 a.m. Kol Nidre: 6 p.m. Yom Kippur: 8:30 a.m. No reservation necessary. Temple Ahavat Shalom, 18200 Rinaldi Place, Northridge. (818) 360-2258. tasnorthridge.org.


College students and military personnel are welcome to attend these Conservative services. Please contact the synagogue for a list of service times and tickets. Student or military ID required. 6025 Valley Circle Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 346-3545. templealiyah.org.


This Reform community opens its doors to children and families for Tot High Holy Days services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 4 p.m. Yom Kippur: 3:30 p.m. No reservation necessary. Temple Judea, 5429 Lindley Ave., Tarzana. (818) 758-3800. templejudea.com.


This synagogue holds a variety of free youth and family services over the course of the High Holy Days. Erev Rosh Hashanah (third- through sixth-graders): 5 p.m. RSVP required. Rosh Hashanah, first day, family service (children 5 and younger): 2:30 p.m. No reservation necessary. Kol Nidre, youth and family service (third- through sixth-graders): 5 p.m. RSVP required. Yom Kippur, family service (children 5 and younger): 2:30 p.m. Yom Kippur, service for all adults: 5:30 p.m. Yizkor and Neilah at 6:30 p.m. Break-the-fast at sunset. Temple Kol Tikvah, 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 348-0670. koltikvah.org.



These free services for the unaffiliated feature music, poetry, reflection, memorial candle-lighting services and more. Please bring canned food to donate to food banks. Led by Cantor Estherleon Schwartz. Erev Rosh Hashanah: 7 p.m. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 10 a.m. Kol Nidre: 7 p.m. No reservations necessary (limited seating). Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m. OS Open Space Cafe, 457 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 653-7420. estherleon.com.


This LGBT congregation welcomes the general public on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. 10 a.m. No reservations necessary. Congregation Kol Ami, 1200 N. La Brea Ave., West Hollywood. Also offering these free services for those 30 and younger: Erev Rosh Hashanah: 8 p.m. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 10 a.m. Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St., L.A. Kol Nidre: 8 p.m. and Yom Kippur: 10 a.m. Harmony Gold Theater, 7655 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. RSVP required. (323) 606-0996. kol-ami.org.


The education center holds an abridged, beginners Rosh Hashanah service, open to everyone. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 5 p.m. Reservations required. Jewish Learning Exchange, 512 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 857-0923. jlela.com.


The venerable Sunset Strip comedy club holds services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur. Services are conducted in the Reform tradition by Rabbi Bob Jacobs. Everyone is welcome. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 10:30 a.m. Refreshments follow. Kol Nidre: 6-7:30 p.m. Yom Kippur: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Neilah: 6-7 p.m. Break-the-fast follows. First come, first served. Laugh Factory, 8001 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 656-1336. laughfactory.com.


Rabbi Naomi Levy and the Nashuva Band’s spiritual community is back at its larger location, the historic Founder’s Church of Religious Science in Koreatown, and everyone’s invited. A Rosh Hashanah second-day hike and service will be held in Temescal Park. A massive drum circle/tashlich will take place where Venice Boulevard meets the ocean on the first day of Rosh Hashanah at 5:30 p.m. Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:45 p.m. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 9:30 a.m. Rosh Hashanah, second day: 9 a.m. (hike), 10 a.m. (service). Kol Nidre: 6:30 p.m. Yom Kippur: 9:30 a.m. Reservations requested (donations appreciated). Child-care program available with reservation. Founder’s Church of Religious Science, 3281 W. Sixth St., Los Angeles. Temescal Park, 15601 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades. nashuva.com. For people unable to get to synagogue, Nashuva’s entire Kol Nidre service will be live-streamed at jewishjournal.com.


The historic Reform congregation holds free family services (toddlers through second-graders) on Rosh Hashanah, first day, Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur, and opens its doors to the general public on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 8:30 a.m. Rosh Hashanah, second day: 10 a.m. Kol Nidre: 6 p.m. Yom Kippur: 8:30 a.m. No reservations necessary. Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 876-8330. tioh.org



Rabbi Heather Miller leads the LGBT congregation’s family services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur in Temple Isaiah’s Social Hall. These services are for families with children of all ages. Rabbi Lisa Edwards and Cantor Juval Porat lead a service for the public on the second day of Rosh Hashanah at BCC’s Pico Boulevard synagogue. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 9:30 a.m. Rosh Hashanah, second day: 10 a.m. Yom Kippur: 10 a.m. Temple Isaiah, 10345 W. Pico Blvd., LA. Beth Chayim Chadashim, 6090 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 931-7023. bcc-la.org


This progressive Reform synagogue holds free afternoon children’s services for families with children up to age 7. Led by Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels and Cantor Richard Bessman. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 1:30 p.m.; Yom Kippur: 2 p.m. No reservations necessary. Santa Monica High School, Barnum Hall, 601 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 453-3361. bethshirshalom.org.


These free services are in English, with meaning, melody and humor by Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz (aka “Schwartzie”). All ages welcome. Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:45-8:45 p.m. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Kol Nidre: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Yom Kippur: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 3-5:30 p.m. (“Stump the Rabbi” program). Neilah: 5:30 p.m. No reservations necessary. Writers Guild Theater, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 391-7995. chaicenter.org.


Free to all students with a valid school ID. There will be egalitarian and Orthodox services. RSVP required. Hillel at UCLA, 574 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 208-3081. uclahillel.org.


Pray for free with the progressive egalitarian community on Erev Rosh Hashanah, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur from Yizkor through Neilah. Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:45 p.m. Rosh Hashanah, second day: 8:30 a.m. Yom Kippur from Yizkor on: 2:15 p.m. Pre-registration and ID required. Shalhevet High School, 910 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 634-1870. ikar-la.org.


These free and lively family services feature music and storytelling for children (7 and younger) and their parents and grandparents. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 2 p.m. Yom Kippur: 2 p.m. Reservations required. Leo Baeck Temple, 1300 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 476-2861. leobaecktemple.org.


The independent community’s free second day Rosh Hashanah/Beit Midrash will be a morning of study and liturgical music. A Yom Kippur service will feature commentary by Rabbi Mordecai Finley. Rosh Hashanah, second day: 10 a.m. Yom Kippur: 2 p.m. No reservations necessary. Rosh Hashanah service: Ohr HaTorah, 11827 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles. Yom Kippur: Wilshire Ebell Theatre, 4401 W. Eighth St., Los Angeles. (310) 915-5200. ohrhatorah.org.


The secular humanistic community holds a free family picnic and celebration with readings and songs on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, and a discussion about ethics in our daily lives on Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 11 a.m. Yom Kippur: 11 a.m. No reservations necessary. Rancho Park-Cheviot Hills picnic area No. 1, 2551 Motor Ave., Los Angeles. (818) 760-6625. sholem.org.


The traditional, egalitarian, lay-led minyan welcomes the general public to services. Erev Rosh Hashanah: 6:30 p.m. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 8:30 a.m. Rosh Hashanah, second day: 8:30 a.m.; Kol Nidre: 6:15 p.m. Yom Kippur: 8 a.m. RSVP requested (donations encouraged). Workmen’s Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 916-9820. shtibl.com


Rabbi David Wolpe leads Rosh Hashanah Live, a free musical celebration combined with a service on Erev Rosh Hashanah. There is also a more traditional service offered. On Yom Kippur, the Yizkor service is open to the public. Erev Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah Live: 8 p.m., Ziegler Sanctuary; Erev Rosh Hashanah, traditional service: 8 p.m., Barad Hall; Yom Kippur, Yizkor service: 3 p.m. No reservations necessary (space is limited, arrive early). Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 474-1518. sinaitemple.org


On the first day of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur, the Reform congregation offers free half-hour services for toddlers and preschoolers and their families, including lots of singing, dancing, stories and activities. Hebrew and English readings, a sermon from an Emanuel rabbi, and a mix of classic High Holy Days choral music balanced with traditional and contemporary melodies highlight the congregation’s free service on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah, first day: 11:00 a.m.-11:30; Rosh Hashanah, second day: 9 a.m.-noon; Yom Kippur: 11:00 a.m.-11:30. No reservations necessary. Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, Bess P. Maltz Center, 8844 Burton Way, Beverly Hills. (310) 288-3737.  tebh.org.


Music- and story-filled, these one-hour families with young children services are a kid-friendly introduction to the High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah, first day and Yom Kippur: 8:30 a.m. Reservations required. University Synagogue, 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 472-1255. unisyn.org.




Chabad of Toluca Lake. Sept. 14. 1 p.m. Walk to L.A. River from Oakwood Toluca Hills, North Clubhouse, 3600 Barham Blvd., Toluca Lake. (818) 308-4118. chabadoftolucalake.com.


Temple Judea. Approximately 11:30 a.m. Lake Balboa, 6300 Balboa Blvd., Van Nuys. (818) 758-3800. templejudea.com


Temple Adat Elohim. Sept. 14. 5 p.m. Conejo Creek Park, North Park, 1379 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. (805) 497-7101. adatelohim.org.


Temple Aliyah. Sept. 20. 4-7 p.m. (picnic at 4 p.m.; tashlich at 6 p.m.). Point Dume, Westward Beach Road, Lifeguard Tower No. 5. templealiyah.org.


Temple Ahavat Shalom. Sept. 15. Wine and cheese at 6 p.m.; service at 6:30 p.m. Temple Ahavat Shalom, 18200 Rinaldi Place, Northridge. tasnorthridge.org.


Shomrei Torah. Sept. 20. 5:30 p.m.  Heal the Bay project.  Surfrider Beach, Lifeguard tower between Adamson House and Malibu Pier. Free parking along Pacific Coast Highway, paid parking in lot adjacent to Adamson House.  (818) 346-0811. stsonline.org.



Temple Akiba. Bike ride to Culver beach. Sept. 20. 1 p.m.  Meet at Temple Akiba, 5249 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City. (310) 398-5783. templeakiba.net


Beth Shir Shalom. Sept. 14. 3 p.m. Beach at the end of Pico Boulevard. (310) 453-3361. bethshirshalom.org.

Temple Israel of Hollywood. Sept. 14. 4 p.m. Meet at Lifeguard Station No. 12 (parking at Lot 3 North). 1150 Palisades Beach Road, Santa Monica. (323) 876-8330. tioh.org.

IKAR. Sept. 20. 4 p.m. Bring a picnic dinner and meet at Lifeguard Station No. 26 (where Ocean Park Boulevard meets the beach). (323) 634-1870. ikar-la.org.


Nashuva. Please dress casually in white and consider a sweater. Bring a percussion instrument and bread for throwing. Sept. 14. 5:30 p.m. Venice Beach (where Venice Boulevard meets the sand; approximate address: 1 N. Venice Blvd., Venice).

Beth Chayim Chadashim. Sept. 15. 4 p.m.  Park in Lot 5S, meet at south end of parking lot. Bring sweater and shofar. 2600 Barnard Way, Santa Monica. (323) 931-7023. bcc-la.org.


Leo Baeck Temple. Sept. 14. 5 p.m. Will Rogers State Beach (intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Temescal Canyon Road). Meet at Tower No. 7. (310) 476-2861. leobaecktemple.org

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. Sept. 14. 5 p.m. Will Rogers State Beach (intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Temescal Canyon Road) Lifeguard Tower No. 8. (310) 276-9776. tebh.org.

KEVER AVOT, Sept. 20 


All are welcome — especially Jewish war veterans. Please bring a canned food item, nonperishable food, personal hygiene item or children’s book to be donated to Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles’ SOVA Community Food and Resource Program. 10 a.m. Free. Eden Memorial Park, 11500 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills. (818) 361-7161. eden-memorialpark.com.  


Service led by Rabbi John Rosove and Cantorial Soloist Shelly Fox of Temple Israel of Hollywood. They are joined by Cantor Linda Kates (Leo Baeck Temple), and Rabbi Cantor Alison Wissot (Temple Judea). Complimentary yahrzeit candles will be available. There will be a shomer to assist with Kaddish. Please bring canned and dry foods, eyeglasses and hearing aids to donate to the Hillside Chesed Project. 10 a.m. Free. Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, 6001 W. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 641-0707. hillsidememorial.org.


Led by Rabbi Robert Elias. 11 a.m. Home of Peace, Chapel, 4334 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 261-6135. homeofpeacememorialpark.com


Services will be led at two sites. There will be interpreters for the hearing-impaired at both services. Donations to Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles’ SOVA Community Food and Resource Program accepted. 10 a.m. Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, L.A.; 1 p.m. Free. Mount Sinai Simi Valley, 6150 Mount Sinai Drive, Simi Valley. (866) 717-4624. mountsinaiparks.org.


Led by Rabbi Alan Kalinsky and Cantor Jance Weberman. Refreshments served at 9 a.m. Service at 10 a.m. 13017 Lopez Canyon Road, Sylmar. (310) 659-3055. sholomchapels.com

Where will you Tashlich?

I love the annual ritual of tashlich, the symbolic casting away of the soul’s sins. As it involves a body of water — oceans, rivers, ponds — I like to think of it as an excuse for a hike … and a spiritual adventure.  

The custom of self-reflection, traditionally performed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 25 this year) or anytime up to the last day of Sukkot, probably started in the Middle Ages. Its modern incarnation can take many forms, from tossing breadcrumbs or something more natural, like a stone or a twig, to tossing nothing at all. 

Some people read liturgy and sing songs; my family shares poems and engages in a little group therapy before taking a moment to visualize the spiritual healing of the world around us. No matter how you choose to perform the “casting away” ritual of tashlich, it can be a very powerful growing and cleansing experience. 

Even though we are experiencing a devastating drought in Southern California, there remain a few wonderful places to perform the ceremony that are relatively close to home. Why not be adventurous and try something new this year?

Japanese Garden at the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area

The blooming water lilies and immaculately groomed grounds of this 6.5-acre Japanese garden, dedicated in 1984, provide the perfect environment for a peaceful moment. There are many benches strategically placed with beautiful views, allowing a mood of quiet reflection to come naturally. Closed Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $3; $2 for seniors and children.

6100 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys

Lake Balboa at Anthony C. Beilenson Park

This popular 27-acre lake is filled with fish and frequented by amazing birds and waterfowl. Venture just south of the main body of water and you’ll find a small river with little coves to make your visit a bit more tranquil and private.  And if your young ones need a distraction, there is a marvelous playground, too.

6300 Balboa Blvd., Encino 

Franklin Canyon Park

Nestled in the hills near Mulholland Drive, this park’s 3-acre lake offers easy access to a serene hideaway in the middle of the city. And Heavenly Pond, a quiet spot just west of the lake, has a walking path and picnic tables to enjoy. Flush with trees, wildflowers and wildlife, the park makes a great getaway retreat.

2600 Franklin Canyon Drive, Beverly Hills


Perched high on a hill, with a lake and pond connected by a small rushing river, the park has panoramic views. The 308-acre recreation area includes a Japanese garden, is close to the Westside and offers lots of space for family, friends and dogs. Admission is $6 on weekends and holidays.

4100 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles

Point Dume State Beach

All along the coast, the Pacific Ocean is a perfect place for tashlich. Point Dume is especially lovely with its cliffs, rocky coves and long beaches that add a majestic view to the thought-provoking horizon, its distant line a reminder of the endless possibilities of life and the world around us.

7200 Westward Beach Road, Malibu

Los Encinos State Historic Park

Surrounded by adobe buildings and covering 4.7 acres, the flourishing duck pond, built in 1874, is fed by a natural spring. It’s a quaint respite from the commotion of Ventura Boulevard. Shady trees and a grassy area make it a tranquil setting to spend some quiet time.

16756 Moorpark St., Encino


This L.A. oasis comes with beautiful lotus blossoms and great views of downtown. It was named a City of Los Angeles Cultural Historic Monument in 2006.

751 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles

You can also check out:

Century Lake

Malibu Creek State Park

1925 Las Virgenes Road


Johnny Carson Park

400 S. Bob Hope Drive


King Gillette Ranch

26800 W. Mulholland Highway


Malibu Lagoon State Beach

23200 Pacific Coast Highway


Hipster guide to the High Holy Days

3 ways to find High Holy Day meals


Ask your Jewish friends’ parents to adopt you for a couple of weeks.

Call your local synagogue and have them match you with a family.

Check out Sinai Temple’s “Break the Fast” on Yom Kippur, Oct. 4, 8-10:30 p.m. It’s $10 for guests, free for members. Registration at atidla.com.

3 places to get great local honey

Bill’s Bees is located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. You can find their delicious honey made from bees fed native wildflowers at farmers markets throughout the region, including Glendale, South Pasadena, Burbank and Santa Monica.

Bennett’s Honey Farm is located in Ventura County, “home of the best sage and wildflower fields in California,” they claim. They are certified kosher and organic.

Honey Pacifica has been in the raw honey business since 1978. Pick up a jar at your local Whole Foods or at farmers markets in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica and other locations.



5 websites to help you bring in the new year


Jewels of Elul: Craig Taubman’s gathering of short stories and anecdotes to help us reflect and prepare for the High Holy Days.

Write for Your Life: A useful and accessible guide to writing about your spiritual practice.

My Jewish Learning: A clearinghouse of handy information about Jewish holidays, culture, beliefs, etc. Think of it as an interactive “Jewish Book of Why” —with more pictures.

Ask Moses: Get your pressing moral and spiritual questions from an Orthodox perspective answered from an Orthodox perspective by a rabbi with Chabad of California.

10Q: 10 days, 10 questions. Answer each one and next Rosh Hashanah you’ll have your answers sent back to you, so you can reflect on how much you have (or haven’t) changed.



5 books to read to get you in the mood


1. “This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation,” by Alan Lew. A guide to self-discovery and contemplation, drawn from lessons in Judaism and Buddhism.

2. “The Book of Life,” by Stuart Nadler. In the daring first story, an arrogant businessman begins a forbidden affair during the High Holy Days.

3. “Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar,” by Alan Morinis. A highly practical set of teachings for cultivating personal growth and spiritual fulfillment in everyday life.

4. “A Climbing Journey Towards Yom Kippur: The Thirteen Attributes of the Divine,” by R. Margaret Frisch Klein. A guided journal for climbing the spiritual mountain, with questions to help guide your thinking and writing.

5. “Days of Awe: A Treasury of Jewish Wisdom for Reflection, Repentance, and Renewal on the High Holy Days,” edited by S.Y. Agnon. Compiled by one of the greatest Hebrew writers of the 20th century, this is a one-volume compendium of meditations — from the Bible, the Talmud, midrash and the Zohar — to deepen the spiritual experience of the holiest days of the Jewish year.



5 things to know about the High Holy Days liturgy
(by Sinai Temple’s Rabbi Jason Fruithandler)


1. It’s long for a reason — the liturgy tries to give as many opportunities for connection as possible.

Over the course of the High Holy Days, there are special extra prayers, special extra Torah readings, and even a whole extra book of the Tanakh — Jonah — is read. The length and diversity of the liturgy is an expression of the tension between the need for communal strength and individual reality. Each of us stands before God (however you define God) with our own set of deeds and misdeeds. Each of us needs a different kind of encouragement or support to embrace our broken, imperfect selves and make a plan to try to be better. Our prayer services offer a community of people reflecting on the year, medieval piyutim (liturgical poems) on the core nature of death, uplifting music about the possibility of being better, stories of our patriarchs and matriarchs doing the best they can, and many other entry points into the themes of the High Holy Days. Each year, I try to find one access point, one theme, one idea, one song to connect to and carry with me into the coming year.

2. Most of the High Holy Days liturgy is written by poets trying to understand the themes of the holidays.

The early rabbis laid out an outline of what themes the prayer leader should touch on. There were no siddurs for the community. There were traveling professionals who had beautiful singing voices and were masters of the Hebrew language. They would take the themes of that outline and elaborate. The siddur represents a collection, made over the course of 2,000 years, of the best work of those prayer leaders. Do you have a favorite poem? Is there a scene from a movie or TV show that moves you? Add your own to create your personal siddur.

3. The sound of the shofar counts as its own prayer.

Maimonides writes that an entire prayer is in his mind each time he hears the shofar. The powerful sounds of the shofar are meant to stir our souls. The content of that private prayer is going to be different for each person, yet the strength of the prayer is amplified — for all are sharing that moment together. The contrast between the short and long blasts gives us a chance to be individuals together in community.

4. Kol Nidre was extraordinarily controversial.

The early rabbis tried for centuries to abolish or at least to adjust the Kol Nidre service. In many ways, it seems to undermine the halachic (Jewish legal) system. Kol Nidre as a service either annuls all of the vows (promises that invoke God’s name) from the previous year or the coming year. It is possible to annul vows in Jewish law, but you need a rabbinic court. During the Kol Nidre service, we make a pretend court out of three Torahs held by three individuals. There is no halachic standing for such a thing. In addition, it seems to completely alleviate the responsibility of making promises. However, every synagogue in the world has a Kol Nidre service. The people overruled the rabbis. People love the moment of Kol Nidre — not because of its legal standing, but because it transitions us into Yom Kippur. What better way to start a day of forgiveness than by facing the fact that we don’t live up to the promises we make to ourselves and others? More than that, we forgive ourselves for those failings. That forgiveness becomes the foundation of an entire day of admitting all of our shortcomings.

5. Rosh Hashanah is the more somber of the two holidays.

It is the day God is our jury and we are found guilty. Yom Kippur is the “happy fast” — God serves as our sentencing judge, and our sentence is commuted. We have another year to try again.



7 places to “just do your own thing in, like, nature


1. The top of Point Dume in Malibu: You won’t see whales this time of year, but you’ll see Catalina Island, the far horizon and not a lot of people.

2. Sturtevant Falls in Sierra Madre: A four-mile round-trip hike with well-maintained trails; a perfect place to escape the city.

3. The Cobb Estate in Altadena: It’s home to the Sam Merrill Trail and is referred to as the Haunted Forest, with widespread reports of spooky sightings. Also, it was owned by the Marx Brothers in the 1950s.

4. Eaton Canyon in Pasadena: Don’t go chasing waterfalls — the trail to the upper falls was closed off in August after too many hikers fell to their deaths. But you can still hike to the lower falls for a breathtaking view.

5. Griffith Park in Los Angeles: A well-trod urban oasis, but still a great place to bring visitors and get a nice view of the Hollywood sign.

6. El Matador State Beach in Malibu: Even on weekends you can find this beach, near the Ventura County line, relatively quiet. On weekdays, it’s positively peaceful. Sit down, stare at the surf, and reflect.

7. Temescal Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades: Go on a sunset hike and watch a big ball of fire drop into the ocean. Stunning views of the coastline await.



4 ways to put up a sukkah at the end of Yom Kippur


1. Check out Instructables.com for a guide to building a free-standing DIY sukkah out of PVC pipes. SimplifiedBuilding.com shows you how to make a more heavy-duty one out of steel pipes.

2. Sukkot.com offers wood-frame or steel-tube sukkah kits, along with wall materials, bamboo roofing, decorations, and even a lulav and etrog. SukkahDepot.com and SiegerSukkah.com also offer easy-to-assemble sukkahs, but be prepared to shell out a few hundred dollars.

3. Go to a Home Depot or Loews with a budget in mind and the dimensions of your back porch or yard, and channel your inner Tim Allen.

4. Team up with some fellow Jews and build a communal sukkah. There’s no better way to break the Yom Kippur fast than with a nosh among friends under the stars.



Putting the “high” in High Holy Days – 7 “medical” marijuana strains we’d like to see


– Dread Lox

– Maccabuzz

– Pineapple and Honey Express

– Canniblintz

– Chabud

– Andy Coughman

– Jerusalem Stoned



7 best ideas for karaoke songs for the High Holy Days

“I Ran (Shofar Away)” — A Flock of Seagulls

Pour Some Manischewitz on Me — Def Leppard

Love Sukkah — The B-52’s

Son of a Rabbi Man — Dusty Springfield

The Horah Dance — Digital Underground

The Unforgiven — Metallica

Don’t Stop Believin —  Journey



4 ways to work out with your fellow Jews


Om Shalom Yoga

Vintage Israeli dancing at Anisa’s School of Dance in Sherman Oaks, Sept. 27, 8:15 p.m.-12:15 a.m.

Pre-High Holy Days Yoga Unwind & Detox at Sinai Temple, Sept. 21, 11 a.m.-noon.

– The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles Tour de Summer Camps, Sept. 21



4 places to meet singles


Rosh Hashanah Party, Sept. 27, 10 p.m., at Whiskey Blu, 1714 N Las Palmas, Los Angeles. Including DJ Shay Silver, DJ Amit, DJ Yochai, DJ Final Cut and DJ Primitive. israeliparties.com.

Rosh Hashanah Party, Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m., at The Victorian, 2640 Main St., Santa Monica. There’ll be mingling, music, dancing, appetizers and a festive party spirit.

Apple Meets Honey Young Professionals Lounge at Sinai Temple, a place for folks in their 20s and 30s to stop by during or after services at Sinai for light bites (Rosh Hashanah only) and mingling. The lounge will be open on Rosh Hashanah Day 1 (Sept. 25), 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and on Yom Kippur (Oct. 4), 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Rosh Hashanah Apple Extravaganza Party, Sept. 18, 8 p.m., at Moishe House LA,110 N. Harper Ave., Los Angeles. There’ll be delicious apple cider, apple pie, caramel apple dipping, and a discussion on what Rosh Hashanah means to young Jews.



6 best places to get round challah


Got Kosher?: 8914 W. Pico Blvd. (get the pretzel challah!)

Diamond Bakery: 335 N. Fairfax Ave.

Bagel Factory: 3004 S. Sepulveda Blvd. and 8986 Cadillac Ave.

Eilat Bakery: 350 N. Fairfax Ave.

Schwartz Bakery: 433 N. Fairfax Ave.

Delice Bakery: 8583 W. Pico Blvd.



How to pray if you’re not sure you believe in God


“Our prayers are poems! Allow them to be experienced as poetry. It is not about believing or not believing — the question is, do they move me? Do they frustrate or challenge me? If so, that is great, and then we can wonder why.”

— Rabbi Susan Goldberg


6 places to do tashlich


Creative Arts Temple, at Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey, Sept. 26, 10 a.m.

Nashuva, at Venice Beach, Sept. 25, 5:15 p.m.

“Down to the River,” East Side Jews, at Marsh Park on the Los Angeles River, Sept. 27, 6:30-9:30 p.m., $40, includes food, drink and transformation.

Valley Outreach Synagogue, at Zuma Beach, Lifeguard Station 6, Sept. 25, 4 p.m.

IKAR, at Santa Monica Beach, Lifeguard Station 26. Sept. 28, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Tashlich at the Beach, Will Rogers Beach, Sept. 28, 4-6 p.m.



Thoughts on tashlich and humility


“Water is a sign of humility. Our insecurities and weaknesses, which were blocking our growth, can be washed away like water and disappear. Living waters purify, and we seek purification by the mikveh of the sea.”

— Rabbi Yonah Bookstein



6 reasons to go to services


– Meet your bashert (soul mate).

– It’s a mitzvah!

– Make your bubbe and zayde proud.

– Practice your Hebrew reading skills.

– There’s usually free wine involved.

– Get in touch with yourself, get centered, start the New Year fresh and renewed



Where can I learn to blow a shofar?

Michael Chusid, a San Fernando Valley resident and synagogue Makom Ohr Shalom’s ba’al tekiah (shofar master blaster), offers workshops and classes and blogs about the art of blowing shofar at hearingshofar.blogspot.com.

Self-described “jazz comedian” David Zasloff also offers private lessons. Zasloff has staged shofar shows such as “Shofar-palooza,” and on Oct. 18 at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, he will perform on the shofar all the Christian songs written by Jews. davidzasloff.com.



3 places to see art and get inspired

“Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s,” at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See the work of Jewish filmmakers such as Fritz Lang, who later immigrated to the United States and gave birth to film noir.

“Minor White: Manifestations of the Spirit,” at the Getty Center. This highly influential American photographer showed how the visual language can be a tool for spiritual transformation.

“Mandala of Compassion,” at the Hammer Museum. Learn the virtue of patience from four Tibetan Buddhist monks as they handcraft a colorful sand mandala before your very eyes. And then, at the end, they’ll sweep it up, for a lesson in impermanence.



5 places to break the fast

– On the floor of your pantry, because, dear God, your blood sugar is low.

– Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes, because it’s all-you-can-eat.

– Swingers Diner, in Hollywood and Santa Monica, because it’s open late, and you can wash down your lox and bagel with a milkshake.

– Art’s Deli in Studio City has a special High Holy Days menu.

– Brent’s Deli in Northridge and Westlake Village.



6 Jewish drinks to break the fast


Ashkenazi Jews: sweetened tea.

Greek Jews: pepitada, made with crushed melon seeds, water, sugar and rosewater.

Iraqi Jews: hariri, sweetened almond milk with cardamom.

Tunisian Jews: black tea with fresh lemon verbena leaves and sugar.

Moroccan Jews: mint tea.

Tripolitan Jews: tea with cinnamon and sugar or honey

High Holy Day services: Tashlich 2013



Temple Adat Elohim. Sept 5. 4:30 p.m. Oak Canyon Community Park, 5600 Hollytree Drive, Oak Park. (805) 497-7101. adatelohim.org.


Temple Judea. Sept. 6. Approximately 11:30 a.m. Lake Balboa, 6300 Balboa Blvd., Van Nuys. (818) 758-3800. templejudea.com.


Shomrei Torah Synagogue and Temple Aliyah. Sept. 8. 11 a.m. 100 Civic Center Way, Calabasas. (818) 346-0811. shomreitorahsynagogue.org. templealiyah.org.



East Side Jews. Down to the river we go. Be a part of the High Holiday transformative experience. Sept. 7. $40 (includes ritual, food and drink). 6:30-9:30 p.m. Marsh Park in Elysian Valley, 2960 Marsh St., Los Angeles. (323) 663-2255. eastsidejews.com.



Beth Shir Shalom. Sept. 5. 3 p.m. (310) 453-3361. bethshirshalom.org.

Temple Isaiah. Sept. 5. 4 p.m. (310) 277-2772. templeisaiah.com.

Temple Israel of Hollywood. Sept. 5. 4 p.m. Meet at lifeguard station 12 ($12 parking at Lot 3 North). (323) 876-8330. tioh.org.

IKAR. Sept. 8. 4:30 p.m. Lifeguard station 26 (park at the beach just south of Ocean Park Blvd.). (323) 634-1870. ikar-la.org.


Nashuva. Please dress casually in white and consider a sweater. Bring a percussion instrument and bread for throwing. Sept. 5. 5:30 p.m. Venice Beach (where Venice meets the sand; approximate address: 1 N. Venice Blvd., Venice). nashuva.com.

Beth Chayim Chadashim. Sept. 6. 4:30 p.m. Venice Beach, near the Fig Tree Restaurant (429 Ocean Front Walk, Venice). (323) 931-7023. bcc-la.org.


Leo Baeck Temple. Sept. 5. 5 p.m. Will Rogers State Beach (intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Temescal Canyon Road). (310) 476-2861. leobaecktemple.org.

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. Sept. 5. 5 p.m. Will Rogers State Beach (intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Temescal Canyon Road). (310) 276-9776. tebh.org.


Bike ride to the beach. Temple Akiba. Sept. 8. 1 p.m. (meet at Temple Akiba). Temple Akiba, 5249 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City. (310) 398-5783. templeakiba.net.

High Holy Day services guide: Family services

For other services, visit our ” target=”_blank” title=”College”>College, ” target=”_blank” title=”Kever Avot”>Kever Avot, ” target=”_blank” title=”Tashlich”>Tashlich calendars.

” target=”_blank” title=”zimmermuseum.org”>zimmermuseum.org

Geared toward families with young children (8 and under), this hour-long service offers opportunities for children and adults alike to join in both traditional and contemporary song and prayer while sharing in stories and special Torah readings reflecting the mood of the season. Sun. 6-7 p.m. Free. Temple Ahavat Shalom, Sanctuary, 18200 Rinaldi Place, Northridge. RSVP to (818) 360-2258. ” target=”_blank” title=”tasnorthridge.org”>tasnorthridge.org.

Toddlers through second-graders. Mon. 8:30 a.m. Free (no tickets required). Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 876-8330. ” target=”_blank” title=”adatariel.org”>adatariel.org.

The progressive egalitarian community holds family services for parents and children (2-year-olds to first-graders). Mon. 9-9:45 a.m. Free (parent must show ID). Westside Jewish Community Center, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 634-1870. ” target=”_blank” title=”bcc-la.org”>bcc-la.org.

For families – especially those with third- to seventh-graders — this service will feature a full band, interactive stories, high-energy music and inclusive participation. Led by Rabbi Erez Sherman. Babysitting available for children 2 to 5. Mon. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Free. Pomelo Elementary School, 7633 March Ave., West Hills. (818) 346-0811. ” target=”_blank” title=”sholem.org”>sholem.org.

Tot service (toddlers and pre-schoolers). Mon. 11-11:30 a.m. Free. Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, 8844 Burton Way, Beverly Hills. (310) 274-6388. ” target=”_blank” title=”bethshirshalom.org”>bethshirshalom.org.

For younger children. Mon. 1:30 p.m. Free (tickets and registration required). University Synagogue, 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 472-1255. ” target=”_blank” title=”leobaecktemple.org”>leobaecktemple.org.

Mon. 2 p.m. Free. Temple Kol Tikvah, 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 348-0670. ” target=”_blank” title=”adatelohim.org”>adatelohim.org.

Mon. 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. Free. Temple Judea, 5429 Lindley Ave., Tarzana. (818) 758-3800. “>wisela.org.


The progressive egalitarian community holds family services for parents and children (2-year-olds to first-graders). Parents are encouraged to attend with their children. Tue. 9-9:45 a.m. Free (parent must show ID). Westside Jewish Community Center, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 634-1870. TUE SEPT 25 — KOL NIDRE

Geared toward families with young children (8-and-under), this hour-long service offers opportunities for children and adults alike to join in both traditional and contemporary song and prayer while sharing in stories and special Torah readings reflective of the mood of the season. Tue. 6-7 p.m. Free. Temple Ahavat Shalom, Sanctuary, 18200 Rinaldi Place, Northridge. (818) 360-2258. ” target=”_blank” title=”tasnorthridge.org”>tasnorthridge.org.

Toddlers through second-graders. Wed. 8:30 a.m. Free (no tickets required). Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 876-8330. ” target=”_blank” title=”adatariel.org”>adatariel.org.

The progressive egalitarian community holds family services for parents and children (2-year-olds to first-graders). Parents are encouraged to attend with their children. Wed. 9-9:45 a.m. Free (parent must show ID). Westside Jewish Community Center, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 634-1870. ” target=”_blank” title=”stsonline.org”>stsonline.org.

BCC education director Leah Zimmerman leads this service for parents and their kids (ages 1-12). Wed. 11 a.m. Free. Temple Isaiah, 10345 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 931-7023. ” target=”_blank” title=”tebh.org”>tebh.org.

For younger children. Wed. 1:30 p.m. Free (tickets and registration required). University Synagogue, 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 472-1255. ” target=”_blank” title=”bethshirshalom.org”>bethshirshalom.org.

Wed. 2 p.m., 4 p.m. (afternoon service), 5:15 p.m. (Yizkor/Neilah). Free. Temple Kol Tikvah, 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 348-0670. ” target=”_blank” title=”leobaecktemple.org”>leobaecktemple.org.

For parents who want to attend High Holy Days services with their young children (preschoolers to second-graders; older siblings permitted), this 30-minute service is for you. Wed. 3-3:30 p.m. Free. Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. (805) 497-7101. ” target=”_blank” title=”templejudea.com”>templejudea.com.

Join Stephen S. Wise for this service designed for children (birth to age 6) and their families. Stephen S. Wise Temple Clergy will lead this musical and age-appropriate service, so that families can celebrate Yom Kippur together. Wed. 4 p.m. Free (no tickets required). Skirball Cultural Center, Magnin Auditorium, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 889-2383. “>wisela.org.

Are we missing a service? E-mail us at calendar@jewishjournal.com.

High Holy Day services guide: Alternative services

For other services, visit our ” target=”_blank” title=”Family”>Family, ” target=”_blank” title=”Kever Avot”>Kever Avot, ” target=”_blank” title=”Tashlich”>Tashlich calendars.

” target=”_blank” title=”metivta.org”>metivta.org.

Sun. 7:30 p.m. Free. Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 653-7420. ” target=”_blank” title=”estherleon.com”>estherleon.com.

Jewlicious’ nontraditional, interactive High Holiday experience. For young professionals (20s and 30s). Mon. 9:30 a.m. Free (reservations recommended). Hillel Harkam Academy, 9120 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 277-5544. ” target=”_blank” title=”sholem.org”>sholem.org.

The scenic foothills of Simi Peak just outside of Thousand Oaks provide the backdrop, and author and singer-songwriter Rabbi Miriam Maron and author Rabbi Gershon Winkler incorporate ancient wisdom, spirited chant, entrancing movement, joyful celebration, and shamanic ceremony (completely Jewish-based). Childcare available. Mon. 1 p.m. Donation requested: $50 (RSVP required). Private home, 2000 Upper Ranch Road, Thousand Oaks. (805) 795-2996. ” target=”_blank” title=”nashuva.com”>nashuva.com

Chant and meditation service. Tue. 10 a.m. $50 (includes today’s service only). Olympic Collection, 11301 Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (818) 654-9293. TUE SEPT 25 — KOL NIDRE

Jewlicious’ nontraditional, interactive High Holiday experience. For young professionals (20s and 30s). Tue. 6 p.m. Free (reservations recommended). Hillel Harkam Academy, 9120 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 277-5544.” target=”_blank” title=”sholem.org”>sholem.org.

The scenic foothills of Simi Peak just outside of Thousand Oaks provide the backdrop, and author and singer-songwriter Rabbi Miriam Maron and author Rabbi Gershon Winkler incorporate ancient wisdom, spirited chant, entrancing movement, joyful celebration and shamanic ceremony (completely Jewish-based). Childcare available. Tue. 7 p.m. Donation requested: $50, (Kol Nidre only). $100 (Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur). RSVP required. Private home, 2000 Upper Ranch Road, Thousand Oaks. (805) 795-2996. ” target=”_blank” title=”estherleon.com”>estherleon.com.


Wed. 9:30 a.m.  Free. Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 653-7420. “>jconnectla.com.

The scenic foothills of Simi Peak just outside of Thousand Oaks provide the backdrop, and author and singer-songwriter Rabbi Miriam Maron and author Rabbi Gershon Winkler incorporate ancient wisdom, spirited chant, entrancing movement, joyful celebration and shamanic ceremony (completely Jewish-based). Childcare available. Wed. 1 p.m.-sundown. Donation requested: $75 (Yom Kippur only). $100 (Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur). RSVP required. Private home, 2000 Upper Ranch Road, Thousand Oaks. (805) 795-2996. calendar@jewishjournal.com.

High Holy Day services guide: College services

For other services, visit our ” target=”_blank” title=”Family”>Family, ” target=”_blank” title=”Kever Avot”>Kever Avot, ” target=”_blank” title=”Tashlich”>Tashlich calendars.

” target=”_blank” title=”uschillel.org”>uschillel.org.

All Valley-based college students welcome. Sun. Candle-lighting time (6:39 p.m.). Free (students, includes meal). Chabad House at CSUN, 17833 Prairie St., Northridge. (818) 885-5770. ” target=”_blank” title=”uclahillel.org”>uclahillel.org.

College/grad students granted free admission to all-ages service. Must show valid school ID. Sun. 7:30 p.m. Free (advance registration required). University Synagogue, 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 472-1255.  ” target=”_blank” title=”tioh.org”>tioh.org.


Students must show university ID. Mon. Traditional egalitarian: 9 a.m., Orthodox: 9:15 a.m., 6:40 p.m.; Reform: 9:30 a.m. Free (UCLA students, RSVP required). Hillel at UCLA, 574 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 208-3081, ext. 213. ” target=”_blank” title=”uschillel.org”>uschillel.org.

All Valley-based college students welcome. Mon. 10 a.m. Free (students, includes meal). Chabad House at CSUN, 17833 Prairie St., Northridge. (818) 885-5770. ” target=”_blank” title=”unisyn.org”>unisyn.org.

Students/Birthright Israel alumni granted free admission to all-ages service. Student ID/dates of Birthright trip and name of trip provider required. Mon. 10:15 a.m. (Sanctuary service, Minyan service). Free (advance registration required). Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 876-8330. ” target=”_blank” title=”uclahillel.org”>uclahillel.org.

All Valley-based college students welcome. Tue. 10 a.m. Free (students, includes meal). Chabad House at CSUN, 17833 Prairie St., Northridge. (818) 885-5770. ” target=”_blank” title=”uschillel.org”>uschillel.org.


Students must show university ID. Tue. Traditional egalitarian: 6:15 p.m.; Orthodox, Reform: 6:30 p.m. Free (UCLA students, RSVP required). Hillel at UCLA, 574 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 208-3081, ext. 213. ” target=”_blank” title=”chabadcsun.com”>chabadcsun.com.

Hillel invites USC students to celebrate the High Holy Days. Tue. 6:45 p.m. $18 (single-service ticket), $72 (all-services ticket). USC Hillel, 3300 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles. (213) 747-9135. ” target=”_blank” title=”unisyn.org”>unisyn.org.

Students/Birthright Israel alumni granted free admission to all-ages service. Student ID/dates of Birthright trip and name of trip provider required. Tue. 8 p.m. Free (advance registration required). Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 876-8330.” target=”_blank” title=”uclahillel.org”>uclahillel.org.

Hillel invites USC students to celebrate the High Holy Days. Wed. 9:30 a.m. (yizkor at 12:30 p.m. $18 (single-service ticket), $72 (all-services ticket). USC Hillel, 3300 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles. (213) 747-9135. ” target=”_blank” title=”chabadcsun.com”>chabadcsun.com.

College/grad students granted free admission to all-ages service. Must show valid school ID. Wed. 10 a.m. (morning service), 3:30 p.m/ (afternoon, memorial and concluding services). University Synagogue, 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 472-1255. ” target=”_blank” title=”tioh.org”>tioh.org.

Are we missing a service? E-mail us at calendar@jewishjournal.com.

Cast away!

Recipe for forgiveness: One slice of bread, one body of water. Break bread into small pieces. Add bread to water and watch the year’s sins float away.

Sure, that’s a huge oversimplification of the tashlich concept, but it does help explain why Jews all over the world throw bread into oceans, rivers and creeks on Rosh Hashanah.

At its most basic, tashlich (which means “to cast away”) is a spiritual ceremony designed to symbolically cast away one’s sins as we celebrate the new year and prepare for Yom Kippur. Pieces of bread are used to symbolize sins, which are then cast off into the water and taken away. Any body of water may be used, but a running body of water (such as a river or ocean) is preferred.

“I love tashlich,” said Rabbi Lisa Hochberg-Miller, spiritual leader of Temple Beth Torah in Ventura.

“It’s one of those wonderful Jewish practices. It goes from having a simple communal value to having a deep personal value. In a way, it crystallizes the entire experience of the High Holy Days,” she said. “It’s very personal — only you know what is in your heart.”

Hochberg-Miller says that the requirements for tashlich are simple: a body of water, bread and a willingness to look inside yourself. Typically, tashlich is observed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, unless that happens to fall on Shabbat. In that case, tashlich may be performed on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. Technically, tashlich can be done any time up until Hoshanah Rabbah, the last day of Sukkot.

When it comes to choosing bread, there are lots of opinions. A popular e-mail joke has been circulating for years about the appropriate variety of bread to use for various types of sins. For example, if your sins are complicated, choose multigrain bread. For sins of amour, go with French bread. For sins committed in haste, choose matzah. The humorous options add a bit of levity to an otherwise solemn observance. Truth be told, any bread will do.

Many 30-, 40- and 50-somethings have scant memories of observing the custom of tashlich as children, but there seems to be a resurgence in the practice.

“I think it was one of those pieces of Judaism that was probably hidden away in the Orthodox world,” Hochberg-Miller said. “It was sort of rediscovered in the 1970s by Jews who were looking for ways to make Judaism richer and more meaningful.”

Today, many congregations make the observance of tashlich an event. Gatherings at nearby creeks, rivers and especially beaches, can turn into all-day affairs. In the Los Angeles area, Balboa Park, Marina del Rey and Marina Park are popular options.

Perhaps the central focus of tashlich is that it helps us work toward self-improvement.

“For people who are really taking the fullness of the High Holy Days into their hearts, there is that notion of self-reflection and moving past last year,” Hochberg-Miller said. “Working to improve ourselves is an incredible mandate of Judaism — continuing to be mindful of how you are as a person.”

This concept is not lost on the younger generation. Michelle Starkman of West Hills says her children, both of whom attend Jewish day school at Kadima, look forward to observing tashlich with their family and schoolmates.

“I think it make the kids think about their actions and their reactions,” she said. “And the impact that those things have on others around them. During tashlich, they are washing their misdeeds away — or what they perceive as misdeeds — and asking forgiveness from God. But it’s all in a way that is easy for the kids to understand.”

Hochberg-Miller says that the practice of cleansing one’s sins takes a physical act and makes it a spiritual one. “Just like Pesach, when we clean out the chametz from our homes, tashlich is a physical act that shows how our faith requires action. The most important thing is that our faith lead to action.”

Shame on Rabbis for Obama, hooray for Amy Klein, thanks for Marty Kaplan

Online Dating Addict

True Confessions of an Online Dating Addict” — “Cathy” it’s not (Sept. 26). It’s brilliant, and one of the smartest singles columns I’ve read. I love reading each week’s adventure. Klein’s journey is familiar, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so. This strip is so innovative, and I can’t think of another comic or column like it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it winds up with a following like “Bridget Jones Diary,” which also started as a weekly column. I hope you continue to publish it for a long time, barring Amy meeting her “Prince Charming” online.

Alycia Witzling
Los Angeles

Rabbis for Obama

I take exception with the group “Rabbis for Obama” (“Rabbis for Obama Seen As First in American Politics,” Sept. 19). When one obtains the title of rabbi, he is obligated to keep religion and state separate. A rabbi is not just an ordinary citizen. His public statements carry a subliminal message that all Jews think as he does. The separation of church and state is the foundation for religious freedom in our great country. Shame on you Rabbis for Obama.

Hershey Gold
via e-mail

Economic Atonement

God has a sense of irony (“The Crash,” Sept. 26).

In the next few days, we’ll conclude the Shmita year, the seven-year agricultural cycle. Among the rules of the of the Shmita year, at the end of the one, all debts are nullified.

In the past few months and weeks, and especially the past few days, we have witnessed the collapse of many financial behemoths, and the devaluation of hundred of billions of dollars of debt instruments. Many hundreds of billions of dollars of debt are being wiped off the books.

In a similar vein, Jewish law prohibits charging interest on loans. There was something unseemly about making money from money. Thus, at the same time as massive loans are being written off, we are observing a free fall of our economy due from many obscure, and obtuse, derivative financial instruments (such as credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations), which brought about the redundant pledging and excessive leveraging of financial instruments.

Interest on a loan was the first step that led to derivative financial instruments.

God indeed has a sense of irony.

Jeffrey Rabin
via e-mail

Presidential Politics

I must commend The Journal for the two informative articles on Sarah Palin (“Shooting Sarah Palin,” “Sarah Palin, Chabad Share Same Appeal,” Sept. 19).
However, I cannot believe that not a single letter in favor of the articles was received.

Allow me to correct this discrepancy by saying that the articles were superb illustrations of a uniquely capable woman.

Larry Schlesinger

Two McCain advisers recently stated that a McCain administration wouldn’t “actively [engage] in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” (“McCain Advisers: ‘No’ to Syria Talks,” Sept. 26).

Not only has a two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict been the consensus position of the U.S. government for the last 10 years, but more than 70 percent of American Jews support a two-state solution, according to a recent poll commissioned by the pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby J Street. It is unclear what McCain seeks to gain by taking such an unpopular position.

Real peace and security for Israel and the United States will only come through a negotiated end to the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, and either of these peace agreements are unlikely to happen without strong leadership from an American president.

We need a president who understands this basic fact.

Cathy Colloff
Toluca Lake

Post-Palin Depression

Since Marty Kaplan believes Democrats are far more educated than Republicans, who he says embody the antithesis of intellectual pursuit, he might benefit from learning a short history lesson he obviously missed during his academic career: That the senior Nazi officials attending the Wannsee Conference in January 1942 held advanced university degrees, including doctorates (“Post-Palin Depression,” Sept. 12).

Apparently being highly educated and cultured did not prevent them from enacting the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.

While Kaplan is entitled to his misguided beliefs, he should realize that those of us who support McCain-Palin, especially in liberal territory, must do a lot of research to back up our views.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize many highly degreed professors on the left are babbling fools, while lacking a college degree is no barrier to possessing common sense.

Leslie Fuhrer Friedman

Rosh Hashanah and Change

Marty Kaplan evoked all the feelings and thinking that I’ve been stumbling to communicate — to my friends on both the left and the right (“Is Change Possible,” Sept. 26).

Our tradition and our government both offer us a mirror to reflect and an opportunity to transform what we don’t like. Of course, Kaplan said so much more, so much better. Still I wanted to let him know I’m profoundly moved and grateful for his eloquence.

So what are you working on now?

Bett Lujan Martinez.
Executive Director
The Possible Society of CA

Tashlich on the Beach

To set the historical record straighter concerning Tashlich on the beach (“Best Tashlich Custom Is a Toss-Up,” Sept. 26).

In 1985, when our rabbi, Jeffrey Marx, arrived at Santa Monica Synagogue, he brought 60 of us to the edge of the water on Rosh Hashanah to toss away our sins.

Over the years, in addition to meditations and music, we have written our sins on helium balloons and then released them up into the heavens; recorded them on edible paper which we fed to a live scapegoat; put them in a collection bag held by a scuba diver who came up out of the sea; and built a Western Wall of sand onto which we scratched our sins.

For more than two decades, we have freely shared our Tashlich ideas and services with other Los Angeles congregations. Now, each year, as more than 800 of us gather on the beach, we kvell that Jewish communities from Malibu down to Venice, from Agoura to as far east as Hollywood, have followed our example.

Lori Daitch
Director of Education
The Santa Monica Synagogue

StandWithUs Responds

The five academics sidestepped the issues we raised, instead focusing on issues we didn’t raise (Letters, Sept. 19). Our concern was never traditional anti-Semitism on campuses, but rather anti-Zionism, which distorts facts to demonize and incite prejudice against Israel and its supporters, a well-documented trend in academia.

Dissenting faculty — let alone students — have difficulty speaking out for fear of ostracism and possible penalties in their reputations, grades, promotions and opportunities for publication, grants and participation on academic committees and review and editorial boards. Yet, these five academics take refuge in speaking about “negligible anti-Semitism,” thereby denying the painful experiences of many students and faculty — in effect, abandoning them.

Our attempts to cooperate have repeatedly resulted in the attitude expressed in their letter — they alone know about campus life, and campuses are their exclusive turf.

They disrespectfully dismissed 20,000 SPME [Scholars for Peace in the Middle East] academics, StandWithUs and students and other faculty at UCLA and across the country who believe the problem is serious. The five should at least have the modesty to admit they do not represent all students and faculty and perhaps are unaware of some information available to others.

People can interpret situations differently. Consider UCLA. Several professors continue promoting their anti-Zionist agenda in and outside the classroom and under the guise of “Middle East history” courses with no history courses offered with alternative perspectives. On Yom HaZikaron in May 2008, students on Bruin Walk encountered a mock “apartheid wall” covered with photos of IDF soldiers aiming their guns at Palestinian women and children.

The five academics may believe these incidents have no short- or long-term impact, and should be ignored. StandWithUs respectfully disagrees, but recognizes that this debate is important and has been occurring on many campuses. Therefore, in a spirit of cooperation, we invite the five to a private and/or public discussion about these issues.

Roz Rothstein,
International Director
Roberta Seid
Director of Research/Education

Sarah Palin

David Suissa’s praise for Sarah Palin, “A likable adrenalin junkie,” “folksy charm” (unlike Hillary’s “steely demeanor”), “flirting with her husband,” a woman who can cause a tough Israeli war hero to “fall under her spell,” was certainly fitting if she was an “American Idol” contestant (“Shooting Sarah Palin,” Sept. 19).

But Palin is running for the second highest office in our land, one that is, literally, a heartbeat away from the presidency.

What does Suissa have to say about her total lack of foreign policy and national experience? She’s a “quick study.” She has enough “street smarts” (how about education and experience?) “to quickly improve herself.” But this is the running of a country that we’re talking about here not a local business. The issues now facing our nation are far too serious and complicated for on-the-job training.

This is not the time for any candidate for high office to begin their studies.

Our tradition teaches us: “Don’t look at the container but what’s inside of it.”

Suissa and all of us would be better served by looking at the political track record and experience of our candidates, not their looks and personalities.

Rabbi Jeff Marx
Santa Monica

Now that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain’s running mate, has visited the United Nations and met with representatives of several countries, the McCain campaign can claim that she has international relations experience with countries in addition to Russia, the “neighbor” she understands well because she can see it from Alaska.

No doubt, meeting some world leaders, even for the first time, makes her well-qualified to become vice president and to be just a heart beat away from the presidency. In fact, whenever the issue of Palin’s experience for the position arises, McCain’s campaign spokesmen respond immediately that she has more “executive” experience than Sen. Barack Obama.

However, since when does having been in an administrative position guarantee that the individual has developed or demonstrated the qualities essential to being an effective executive? After eight years, is there anyone who still believes that George W. Bush’s executive experience as governor of Texas qualified him to be president?

Given Obama’s extensive educational background and varied work experiences — graduation from Columbia University and Harvard University School of Law, a community organizer on the south side of Chicago, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, a two-term Illinois State senator, a first-term U.S. senator and almost two years on the campaign trail, he has already demonstrated the leadership, organizational, problem solving and prudent decision making abilities essential to being an effective executive. In a word, there is simply no contest between the experiences of Palin compared with those of Obama.

As David Brooks wrote in a recent New York Times column, “Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared.”

Rachel Galperin

Calendar Girls Picks and Clicks Sept. 26- Oct. 3: Israeli flag raising, free Rosh Hashanah services


Step outside the box and into the outdoor air for a musical Shabbat on the Promenade. Alula Tzadik, an Ethiopian Jew who is a staple at Sinai’s Friday Night Live, Nashuva and Adat Ari El, is assembling a group of spiritual leaders for a public Shabbat service led by Rabbi Monty Turner. Fri. 7:30 p.m. Free. 1322 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica. (323) 472-7484. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.alpertjcc.org.

Kick back under a starry sky and listen to some smooth jazz with Dave Koz, who headlines tonight at the 12th annual Mercedes-Benz WaveFest. The Encino-born saxophonist and 94.7 The WAVE radio host recently released a greatest hits collection and got his own star on the Walk of Fame. Koz will perform on the same bill with Average White Band, vocalist Brenda Russell, and Joe Sample and Randy Crawford. Friday show features Anita Baker. Sat. 7 p.m. $29.75-$129.75. The Greek Theatre, 2700 N. Vermont, Los Angeles. (323) 665-5857. ” title=”make history today”>make history today when it becomes the first in the nation to fly Israel’s flag outside its doors. A star-studded lineup, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Consul General Jacob Dayan, ” target=”_blank”>http://www.israeliconsulatela.org.

Whether you’ve still not seen “Wicked” or want the opportunity to relive the spectacular Broadway hit, Stephen Schwartz has a treat just for you. In “Defying Gravity: Stephen Schwartz and Friends,” the composer will be joined by Debbie Gravitte and Scott Coulter as he plays favorites from “Wicked” as well as the films “Enchanted” and “Prince of Egypt.” Sun. 2 p.m. $45. Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. (310) 506-4522 or (213) 365-3500. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.vistadelmar.org.

Part of a double-feature screening of new films from Germany features “And Along Came Tourists.” Sven travels to Auschwitz and becomes the caretaker for an embittered Holocaust survivor to fulfill his national service abroad. After meeting interpreter Ania, the two find love in the unlikeliest of places. This showing is preceded by “The Wave.” Sun. 7:30 p.m. $10. The Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (323) 634-4878. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.circlesocal.org.

You know a city has historic significance when Steven Spielberg uses its name for the title of a film. But this weeklong conference, “Remembering Munich: The Legacy of Appeasement” is not about the 1972 Olympic games tragedy. Instead, it recalls the 70th anniversary of the Munich Agreement, detailing Hitler’s territorial demands on the eve of World War II. The American Freedom Alliance presentation features commentary from scholars, statesman and community leaders from around the world, including the former prime ministers of Australia and of the Czech Republic. Sun. 12:30-2:30 p.m. Reception to follow. Free. InterContinental Hotel, Grand Salon, 2151 Avenue of the Stars, Century City. (310) 444-3085. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.sinaitemple.org.

Apples and honey are one thing, but appletinis are quite another. Gather with Stephen S. Wise’s “W Group” (20s and 30s) for the sixth annual Appletini Party, stocked with drinks and dessert, immediately following erev Rosh Hashanah services. Mon. 9:30 p.m. Free. Stephen S. Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-8561. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.chaicenter.org.

Chabad of the Conejo is transforming The Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Hotel into a holy place for services this year. Attendees also have the option of staying at a High Holy Days retreat complete with meals, so call to make reservations. Mon. 6:30 p.m. $50-$100. Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel, 880 South Westlake Blvd., Westlake Village. (818) 991-0991. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.jewishmalibu.com.

California State University, Northridge, is offering students free services both days of Rosh Hashanah. Mon. 6 p.m. and Tue. 10 a.m. Free (students), $125 (guests). $10 (dinner). CSUN Hillel, 17729 Plummer St., Northridge. (818) 887-5901 or (818) 886-5101. ” target=”_blank”>http://jha.org.

Celebrate the High Holy Days in a historic log building among the Ponderosa Pines with B’nai Big Bear. Mon. 6-9:45 p.m. $36 (members), $100 (nonmembers). Miller Park, 1178 Chickasaw Lane, Fawnskin. (909) 866-9556. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.jewishjournal.com/calendar.

Everyone is welcome to cast away their sins at Nashuva’s popular Tashlich at Venice Beach. This meaningful ritual gets elevated when you dress in white, toss your crumbs, pound on drums and blow the shofar. Tue. 4:30 p.m. Free. Where Venice Boulevard meets the sand. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.jconnectla.com.

The sweetness of comedy-lover and Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada pervades this New Year celebration as the Sunset Boulevard staple opens its doors to everybody, especially “actors, writers and comedians who can’t afford to join a temple,” for free High Holy Days services conducted by Rabbi Bob Jacobs. No donations or tickets accepted. Now that’s almost laughable. Tue. 11 a.m. Free. The Laugh Factory, 8001 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 656-1336. ” target=”_blank”>http://chabadofconejo.com.

The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring hosts a sweet treat with reflections on the past year, followed by a snack with apples, challah and honey. Tue. 3 p.m. $10 (members), $20 (nonmembers). Arbeter Ring, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 552-2007. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>contemporary music. Kosky will debut his dark adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” at UCLA Live’s seventh International Theatre Festival. Starring Martin Neidermair and featuring Kosky’s solo performance of his original live music, the director transforms Poe’s tale of murder and retribution into a haunting theatrical and musical experience. Wed. 8 p.m. $46. Through Oct. 5. (310) 825-2101. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.hollywoodbowl.com.


Watch the 2008 vice-presidential nominees Joe Biden and Sarah Palin square off on the big screen followed by a staged reading about the 1950 California Senate race that earned young Richard Nixon the nickname “Tricky Dick.” After Nixon falsely accused three-time liberal Rep. Helen Gahagan Douglas of being a ” target=”_blank”>http://www.tickets.landmarktheatres.com.

Dive into the Jewish literature you’ve always heard about but never read. Michal Lemberger, a UCLA English professor and freelance writer, will moderate the discussion during Westwood Branch Library’s Three-Part Jewish Literature Series. Among the books to be read: “The Chosen,” by best-selling author Chaim Potok, about the friendship that develops between two teenage Jewish boys; and “Foreskin’s Lament: A Memoir,” by Shalom Auslander, a funny reflection about the role of faith by the “This American Life” contributor and author of “Beware of God: Stories.” Thu. 6-7 p.m. Free. Westwood Branch Library, 1246 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 474-1739. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>holidays where dinner, music and services will calm you from Rosh Hashanah and pep you up for Yom Kippur. Fri. 7:30 p.m. $10 (dinner, R.S.V.P.). Adat Ari El, 12020 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. (310) 926-2386. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.booksoup.com.

Bill Maher has taken his irreverent humor and distaste for religion to the silver screen. In the documentary “Religulous,” directed by Larry Charles of “Borat” fame, Maher travels the world questioning religious devotees about their faith as he investigates religion’s “place” in society. The host of HBO’s “Real Time” uses his biting sarcasm and quick wit to challenge his subjects and explain his view that religion is silly and dangerous. In the end, Maher makes a powerful plea to the viewer advocating the separation of church and state. ” title=”Lilly Fowler”>Lilly Fowler contributed to this article

The very best Tashlich custom is a toss-up

On paper, the Rosh Hashanah ritual of Tashlich is about doffing one’s sins to start the new year with a clean slate. For Jason Mauro, 16, it’s also about beach football.

Every year since he was 8, Mauro and his friends at Temple Israel of Hollywood have marked the afternoon ceremony, which the synagogue holds at a beach in Santa Monica, with a sand-logged scrimmage.

“It’s a routine now,” said Mauro of Studio City. “We bring a couple of footballs and give some to the younger kids. The games used to be kids vs. parents, but since we’ve gotten bigger and stronger, they kind of back off.”

Family ball games, picnics and drum circles are revitalizing Tashlich as a booming social event, local rabbis say. Built on the traditional casting of sins — often symbolized by breadcrumbs, rocks or lint — into the ocean, the ritual now draws throngs of participants eager to celebrate community, revel in the great outdoors and cut loose.

“People are really gung-ho about Tashlich,” said Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh, associate rabbi at Temple Israel of Hollywood. “After spending the morning in synagogue, they get to take off their stockings and shoes and suits and ties and dresses and put on shorts and T-shirts and bathing suits and sun block. They take picnics and blankets, and we all meet at the beach.”

Maybe that’s why the ceremony, which Missaghieh brought to the Reform congregation when she joined its staff 13 years ago, has been steadily gaining in popularity. Starting with about 100 participants the first year, Temple Israel’s Tashlich event now draws a gathering so large — more than 450 people, Missaghieh said — that they have to obtain a permit from the city of Santa Monica to accommodate the crowd. The city also assigns lifeguards to watch over the waterside festivities.

“It’s a great service for people with families,” said Temple Israel member Bruce Miller, who has taken part in Tashlich for the past six years with his wife, Tracy, and their three young children. “You’re not sitting in one place in a big room where you have to be quiet and sit still. Three-year-olds don’t do that so well. Here, they can run around. Tashlich is more connected to things kids can relate to.”

Miller, a television writer based in Hancock Park, also enjoys the chance to experience Judaism amid nature’s majesty.

“It’s wonderful to hear the shofar outside at the beach,” he said. “Near the water, under the sky, it seems more spiritually relevant to what the holiday is about.”

A few blocks south on Venice Beach, Nashuva encourages Jews of all ages — including total strangers catching rays nearby — to tap into their spiritual sides by taking part in a drum circle. With more than 1,000 participants, Rabbi Naomi Levy said she’s been told Nashuva’s Tashlich ritual is the largest Jewish drum circle in the world.

“We’ve been doing this for four years, and it’s been growing exponentially,” Levy said. “We blow the shofar at the beach as a call for all Jews to come. You’d be surprised how many times we get an Israeli jogger passing by, or a couple of sunbathers who happen to be Jewish. You see people coming from all different parts to join in.”

Members of the Nashuva community, which during the rest of the year holds Friday night Shabbat services at Brentwood Presbyterian Church the first week of each month, gathers for Tashlich at the beach off Venice Boulevard at 4:30 p.m. on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Organizers hand out percussion instruments, but attendees are also urged to bring their own. Drums, tambourines and even spoons are welcomed.

The first time Brentwood resident Carol Taubman took part in Nashuva’s Tashlich ceremony in 2004, “it took my breath away,” she recalled. “There were so many people, all dressed in white, and this fabulous drumming circle. There was a great sense of community, and it was very powerful.”

Taubman has attended Tashlich ever since, drawn back by the inclusive spirit of the event.

“It’s such a welcoming experience,” she said. “Some people can be intimidated by all the prayers at a synagogue service, but anybody can hit a drum or bang two spoons together. It’s like sharing a communal language.”

But the point of Tashlich — to cleanse oneself of the past year’s sins — shouldn’t be undermined by the ritual’s festive atmosphere or the ease of tossing breadcrumbs into the ocean, said Rabbi Dan Shevitz of Mishkon Tephilo in Venice.

“The notion that we can dispose of our sins in such a casual manner is problematic,” said Shevitz, whose Conservative beachfront service gathers 200 to 400 people each year. “You can’t just empty your pockets and be rid of your sins. It takes more work than that.”

Shevitz has put together a reading reflecting the idea that sins can never be truly cast off, but they can be “purified, as we treat sewage.”

The ceremony, which Mishkon Tephilo has done for decades, attracts more and more congregants each year, he said. “It’s as much a social occasion as a liturgical one. It’s a refreshing alternative to the sobriety of the morning service.”

Further inland, Encino-based Valley Beth Shalom has seen a spike in Tashlich attendance for the same reason. The Conservative congregation has been holding a ceremony on the second day of Rosh Hashanah for the past 10 years at Encino’s Lake Balboa.

“Tashlich is amazingly popular,” said Rabbi Edward Feinstein, senior rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom. “The sunshine is wonderful, we’re out in the fresh air, and we can begin to smell the autumn coming. It’s really joyful.”

This year, Valley Beth Shalom will partner with Valley Village congregation Adat Ari El for a joint Tashlich service. Feinstein is expecting a crowd of about 250 at the lakeside park, which Los Angeles park rangers keep open an extra hour for the ceremony.

An added bonus of holding Tashlich at the site, Feinstein noted, is that the bits of challah thrown into the water end up feeding the ducks that live on the lake grounds.

Temple Israel of Hollywood chooses to forgo traditional breadcrumbs for a more novel approach to the purging of sins, Rabbi Missaghieh said. As soon as the crowd gathers at 4 p.m. on the first day of the holiday, all the children begin building a wall of sand along the shore. After songs and readings, participants consider an area of their lives they want to improve in the new year, then inscribe their thoughts by hand into the wall. The waves eventually wash the sand away, carrying congregants’ written confessions out to sea.

“I think there’s something very magical about it,” Missaghieh said. “You spend the whole morning thinking about God, talking to God. But then you actually go out into nature and feel the grandness of God’s creation on the day of creation. It’s a very visceral moment; not just your mind, but your whole body is experiencing the rebirth of the world.”

7-step set training for spiritual fitness

So you’ve trained all summer in order to show off that tight body at the beach. Well, as the High Holy Days roll around, impressing the opposite sex seems less and less important.

Now it’s time to show off your Judaism at shul so you can impress your rabbi. And if your rabbi is a member of the opposite sex, you can’t lose.

More importantly, now is the time to capitalize on that expensive shul membership and start going to morning minyan once in a while. The New Year is when you can turn your life around.

Let’s get started.

Step One: Test Your Limits

Go to shul a few times before the holiday and see whether you sit can through a three-hour service. If you can do that, you can do anything. If you do, however, feel the need to rest your mind, try to do it during the rabbi’s intriguing sermon. Your mind will absorb the material better. But be sure to stretch when you wake up.

Step Two: Rid Yourself of Carbs

A great way to do this is by tossing a few bread crumbs in the nearest body of water during Tashlich. Tashlich can be a great way to send off your complex sins in one quick swoop. With each passing crumb, let loose your sinful baggage as a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders.

Step Three: Start Lifting

Get into spiritual shape by starting to lift … the Torah. Hagbah will surely impress your rabbi in addition to increasing your participation during the service. The key is to take on more roles and lead more parts. Hagbah is relatively easy and doesn’t require a lot of knowledge of Hebrew. But if you’re still a little unsure, warm up with an ark opening, then shift to hagbah. Once you’ve mastered the art of torah-lifting, wrap it all up with a quick, painless Gelilah. But remember, maintain full control, or you’ll put everyone on a forced diet.

Step Four: Sets and Reps

Start off with three sets of prayer each day at a slow to moderate pace and focus on repetition … of the Amidah. These 18 blessings will truly give you a deeper insight to the religion, while providing you with a deeper connection to God. Getting in the groove of daily prayer is an excellent way to strengthen your bond with The Lord.

Step Five: Training With Grace

Sure machine weights are effective, but the ultimate grace is best achieved with a solid, sincere, bensch. It’s important to get in the habit of thanking God after each meal. And while you’re at it, be thankful for everything else in this world … from when you lie down at night, to when you rise in the morning.

Step Six: Get Toned

Better yet, get atoned. While you’re thinking about the sins you’ve committed this year, think about the ways those wrongs could have been rights. Be regretful for the way you once acted, and do your best to be more of a mensch in the coming year. Set goals for yourself and try taking a jog down the derech eretz.

Step Seven: Gain The Definition You Want

Understand the meaning of what you’re doing. Understand the meaning of prayer, the meaning of religion and the meaning of God. And only when you understand all these meanings will you truly gain definition.

Now just follow these seven simple steps on a daily basis and you’ll really get into that spiritual mindset that’ll impress your rabbi. Its time to turn the Ten Days of Awe into the Ten Days of Awesome.

And if you’re craving a more intense exercise, be sure to check out our other High Holy Day workouts such as, Diet for Your Sins; Practice, Practice, Practice Your Religion; and our special Yom Kippur workout: Don’t Eat and DonAte.

USC Trojans march for restored Torah; Backyard tashlich in Fairfax

Trojans Greet Restored Torah
When the Trojan fight song rings out at a Torah restoration ceremony, where else could you be but at USC?

About 100 people gathered Sunday under the shade of sycamore trees in front of the university’s Bovard Auditorium to witness the ceremonial completion of a restored Torah scroll that will become the centerpiece of religious life at the Chabad Jewish Student Center.
“It’s an honor just to be here,” said Kaley Zeitouni, a sophomore. “I really feel like I’m witnessing an important moment in this community’s Jewish history. Every time I see the scroll at services I’ll remember that I was part of this event.”
Rabbi Aaron Schaffier, one of two Torah scribes involved in the scroll’s restoration, said the scroll is between 70 and 80 years old and probably originated in Eastern Europe. Its long journey to USC included a layover in Massachusetts, where it was used for several decades at a synagogue that has now merged with other congregations.
The ceremony was particularly moving for Abe Skaletzky, who was visiting his daughter, Michele, another sophomore at USC.
“I’m a ba’al teshuvah,” Skaletzky said. “So knowing this scroll might help other people return to Torah means a lot to me.”
After the last details of the restoration were complete, Schaffier stitched the scroll to its wooden dowels with kosher sinew. Rabbi Dov Wagner carried the Torah from Bovard Auditorium to the Chabad House under a chuppah to symbolize the scroll’s new life.
And that’s when seven members of USC’s marching band brought the moment to life. They began the procession with a rendition of the Trojan fight song, prompting students in the crowd to hold up the two-finger sign for victory.
During its installation at the Chabad House, the scroll was dedicated to the late Sandra Brand, a Holocaust survivor who established a fund to support the restoration of Torah scrolls to be donated to college communities.
— Nick Street, Contributing Writer
Backyard Tashlich in Fairfax
For a few years on Rosh Hashanah — until the raccoons ate all the fish and the fishpond was turned into a giant planter — members of Ohev Shalom, a small Orthodox shul on Fairfax Avenue, gathered in my parents’ yard for Tashlich.
The “pond,” mind you, is about four feet in diameter and maybe a foot deep. But it’ll do for the landlocked mid-Wilshire residents who don’t drive on Rosh Hashanah and want to participate in the custom of Tashlich, which literally means to cast off.
Orthodox residents across the city seek out small bodies of water in which to throw bread crumbs, symbolizing their sins, as they recite atonement-related prayers on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (unless, like this year, it falls on Shabbat).
Tashlich is a custom, not a law, and can be recited anytime during the 10 Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Ideally, the water should be flowing and have fish in it, but that isn’t always possible, so a small reservoir — or my parents’ fish pond — works, too.
A small slab of the L.A. River runs through Beverlywood, some people gather there on Rosh Hashanah to toss their sins through the chainlink fence into the trickle of water muddying up the concrete cutout.
Maybe not quite what the rabbis had in mind when they based the tradition on the quote in Micah, “And you will all their sins into the depths of the sea.” But then again, if bread crumbs can symbolize sins, why not fish ponds as the depths of the sea?
— Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor

Your Basic High Holiday FAQ

Every year they roll around, and every year you’re not quite sure what to do. Go ahead, ask us. After years of answering readers’ questions, we’ve compiled the most frequently asked ones below:

Why do synagogues charge for High Holiday tickets?

Hate to say it, but this is the most frequently asked question of all. The answer, in a nutshell: There’s no free lunch. The High Holidays are traditionally the time most Jews go to synagogue, so the ideal time to raise money to keep the synagogue afloat the rest of the year. Lights, payroll, heating, rabbis, ads in The Jewish Journal — none of it is free. See listings on page 40.

OK, so, now tell me what these holidays mean, anyway.

“Rosh Hashanah” literally translates as “head of the year.” It celebrates the creation of the world. The holiday is observed on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which usually falls in September or October, and marks the beginning of a 10-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance, which culminates on the fast day of Yom Kippur. These 10 days are referred to as Yamim Nora’im, the Days of Awe or the High Holidays.

Synagogue services give us time to reflect and resolve, but prayer and meditation are not enough to bring repentance. The only way to atone for sins we commit against others is by sincerely apologizing, making good our transgressions, and asking for forgiveness.

What are Selichot?

Selichot, meaning forgiveness, are penitential prayers recited by Jews prior to the onset of the High Holiday season. They prepare us for 10 days of reflection and self-examination. Sephardim begin them in Elul, and Ashkenazim on the week before Rosh Hashanah. And you can do them in any synagogue — for free.

What is Tashlich?

Usually performed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah after the afternoon service (unless it falls on the Sabbath), Tashlich is the symbolic casting away of our transgressions. We go to a flowing body of water, perform a short service asking for forgiveness and throw bread into the water (some throw rocks).

Why do we dip an apple into honey on Rosh Hashanah? And what’s with pomegranates?

Sweet apples dipped into sweet honey equal a sweet year. The numerous seeds of the pomegranates — which just happen to reach ripeness this time of year — symbolize our good deeds. Other traditional foods for this time of year are round challahs (symbolizing a complete, whole year) and, among Sephardic Jews, whole fish.

What is Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement.” “The tenth of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement for you” (Leviticus 23:27). Yom Kippur is observed by abstaining from work, by fasting and by attending communal prayers.

Why do we fast on Yom Kippur?

The Torah commands us to afflict our bodies on this holiday.

Why do we blow the shofar?

The shofar is made from a ram’s horn. It is sounded every morning during the month preceding Rosh Hashanah, on Rosh Hashanah itself and again at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. Its piercing sound is a “wake-up call” to repent.

What is Kol Nidre?

Erev Yom Kippur services begin with Kol Nidre, the opening prayer and also the name of the evening service. Kol Nidre is an Aramaic declaration that nullifies all the vows and promises that each person will make to God and to him/herself in the coming year, an acknowledgment of the weakness of human resolution. Wearing white is common on Kol Nidre as a symbol of purity.

What is Yizkor?

Yizkor is a service that recalls loved ones who have died and is recited on Yom Kippur.

How do we atone for our sins?

Yom Kippur atones only for sins between humanity and God, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first apologize, righting the wrongs you committed if possible. This must all be done before the conclusion of Yom Kippur.

What is the Jewish definition of sin?

In Judaism, the word “sin” has different connotations than it does in our wider culture. “Sin” in Judaism is generally not something for which a person will be punished in the afterlife, but is rather an improper act for which one can ask forgiveness — not just of God, but of other human beings, as well.

If I skip services on the High Holidays, will a lightening bolt strike me?

Yes. Just kidding. For more information, link to sites like urj.org/holidays and www.askmoses.com visit www.jewishjournal.com. — Staff Report


Cast Thy Sins Away

If you’ve ever been to Ocean Parkway — that long thoroughfare traversing all neighborhoods Brooklyn, connecting the BQE from "The City" (Manhattan), to the Belt Parkway from Long Island — you’d have seen the two "island" streets lining the two outer streets like an Israeli flag, where old men played chess, young mothers strolled their children and we teenagers hung out.

And one afternoon a year, when a tease of a chill hovered in the air, and the dark green leaves prepared to change into their red outfits, thousands of people would stream out onto Ocean Parkway and head en masse toward the center of the long thoroughfare, as if they were called by a Pied Piper or beckoned by an alien spaceship.

If you were Jewish — and who wasn’t in Brooklyn? — you were celebrating Rosh Hashanah, and you were going "to do Tashlich," as we said in our Hinglish (Hebraicized English).

Tashlich, which means "you will cast away" in Hebrew, refers to the custom of throwing bread into a live body of water to symbolize ridding yourself of your sins.

The ritual — one of many steps of repentance beginning the month before Rosh Hashanah and culminating on the fast of Yom Kippur — has, in recent decades, grown so much in popularity that what started as a little-known custom with few historical sources has entered the mainstream: One of these years, on the High Holidays, Tashlich will be as ubiquitous as apples and honey.

If you want to see how Tashlich has gone mainstream, watch the beaches: Here in SoCal, from Malibu down to Manhattan Beach, on the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah (or the second, if the first day of the Holiday falls on Shabbat), you are sure to find a crowd — one that is bigger than last year’s — heading toward the ocean, preparing to throw away their sins.

Surely, Tashlich has reached the tipping point because there is even a joke Tashlich e-mail circulating on the Internet:

"Occasionally people ask what kind of breadcrumbs should be thrown," the e-mail reads. "Here are some suggestion for breads, which may be most appropriate for specific sins andmisbehaviors:

For ordinary sins………………White Bread

For complex sins………………Multigrain

For twisted sins…………………….Pretzels

For sins of indecision……………….Waffles

For sins committed in haste……Matzah

For sins of chutzpah…………..Fresh Bread

For substance abuse……Stoned Wheat…"

What’s the meaning of this custom? Where did it come from? And why the sudden surge in the practice?

"In recent years, for reasons that have nothing to do with the ceremony itself, Tashlich has become a very social mitzvah," Rabbi Joseph Telushkin writes in "Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History " (William Morrow, 2001).

"People often descend on the same body of water from different neighborhoods, where they encounter friends and acquaintances they may not have seen since the preceding Tashlich. Partially for that reason, even though the ceremony itself is solemn — Tashlich has become more widely observed."

We Brooklyn Jews, of course, were religious trendsetters, practicing a giant community Tashlich since the 1970s. Each Rosh Hashanah, at about 4 p.m., tens of thousands of people slowly inched along the parkway, making their way through the sea of black hats, knitted kippahs, wigs, and coiffed heads that stretched as far as Ocean Parkway could go. It was the height of fashion, literally: one year, The New York Times even sent a photographer for the Sunday Styles Section. Our accessories? A bag of bread and the Rosh Hashanah Machzor, which had the liturgy for the ceremony from the prophet Micah (7:18-20):

"Who is like you God? You forgive sins and overlook transgressions,

For the survivors of Your People;

He does not retain His anger forever, for He loves kindness;

He will return and show us mercy, and overcome our sins,

And You will cast into the depths of the sea all their sins;

You will show kindness to Yaakov and mercy to Avraham,

As You did promise to our fathers of old."

While the first official mention of Tashlich only dates back to the 14th century, most commentators agree that the idea of Tashlich emanated from the same biblical passage that gave us the custom of the shofar, the ram’s horn blown on the High Holidays.

Both customs are performed in remembrance of The Sacrifice of Issac, the Genesis portion we read the second day of Rosh Hashanah. When God commanded Abraham to "take your son, you only son" Isaac and bind him and sacrifice him to prove his devotion to God, Satan was given permission to put obstacles in Abraham’s way in order to weaken his devotion. Finally, Satan placed an impassable river in Abraham’s path, but it did not stop our plucky forefather. With his son in tow, he entered the river, until it came up to their necks — and then called out to God for help, and the river disappeared.

The custom of going to a body of water, the rabbis say, is to remember Abraham’s perseverance and devotion to God, and in our time of repentance, we should exhibit similar devotion, no matter the obstacles.

At Tashlich, when we recite the prayer, "Grant truth to Jacob, kindness to Abraham, as you swore to our fathers from ancient times. In distress I call upon God, With abounding relief, God answered me" — we are recalling Abraham’s ancient cry for help.

By the 15th century, though, there was opposition to the practice of Tashlich. Some rabbis opposed it on religious grounds, because of the prohibition of feeding fish on a holiday. Yet fish are an integral part of Tashlich: The Kabbalah teaches that water symbolizes kindness and fish, with their ever-open eyes, are like the ever-watchful eye of God. (Today, many observant Jews perform Tashlich on a weekday, usually on the day before Yom Kippur, but even as late as Hoshanah Rabah, the seventh day of Succot, which is technically, the "extended" deadline for Tashlich as well as for the final closing of the Book of Life.)

Later, 18th-century maskelim (educated Jews) opposed Tashlich because they thought it primitive. But much of the opposition to Tashlich emanated from the fear of anti-Semitism: In the days of well-poisoning and blood-letting accusations, having a group of Jews walk en masse to a body of water to throw bread into it while chanting a prayer didn’t exactly help race relations. Some rabbis forbade the practice, others encouraged their followers to do it secretly, and some people just symbolically emptied out crumbless pockets.

In Brooklyn, we had plenty of crumbs to throw at Tashlich — just not a whole lot of water. Despite the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island, for some reason everyone made their way to this one landlocked yeshiva. You had to wait your turn — okay, it was Brooklyn, so you had to push your way — up to the black spike metal fence. After you said the prayers, you tossed your bread toward the center of the patch of grass, upon which stood a three-tiered bird bath. I hoped that if I made the shot, my sins would be cleansed.

But would they? Behind the bird bath, over the hundreds of pieces of challah littering the floor, was a sign that read, "Please Do Not Throw Bread."

So how important is the bread throwing anyway? For that matter, why bother engaging in the whole repentance process if we can just throw away all of our sins in one fell swoop? (Okay, for some of us it might take more than one throw to get rid of our sins…)

Tashlich is not the only repentance custom that suffers from literalness (throwing out bread = throwing out sins); it is similar to kaparos (atonement), the ritual practiced on the day before Yom Kippur. During kaparos you wave a live chicken over your head and then slaughter it, saying, "This is my change, this is my compensation, this is my redemption. This chicken is going to be killed, and I shall enter upon a long, happy and peaceful life."

The slaughtered chicken is then donated to charity. Today, many people wave a bag of coins over their head instead of a chicken, as they are discomfited by the voodoo-ishness of the ceremony, which has also drawn, at times, rabbinic disapproval.

Both Tashlich and kaparos, though, find their roots in the "Scapegoat for Azazel," literally, the goat that Aaron was commanded to send off into the wilderness in place of the nation’s sins.

Here’s the thing, though. You’re not supposed to take any of these things literally: the bread we throw into the water, the chicken we slaughter, the goat which was sometimes actually thrown off a mountain to repent for the Nation of Israel — they are not our sins.

How can they be? Repentance, for us, is a complex process involving introspection, confession, apology and the pledging not to repeat your transgressions, not a simple equation of confession and absolution ("Forgive me father, for I have sinned…"). So the question remains, why bother with Tashlich at all?

"There’s something about the ocean," mused Rabbi Steven Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, when asked what the custom means to him.

"It’s always changing, reshaping and reforming," Leder said. "It’s a powerful place to do a powerful thing."

The Reform movement only recently adopted this custom. Even so, the Wilshire congregants have embraced the custom wholeheartedly.

"It’s an opportunity to do something concrete and symbolic in the same moment," Leder said. "The best Jewish practices connect both symbolically and physically."

Leder said some 500 people come to the beach, where everyone builds a long "wall of sand" which rises about 4 feet and stretches hundreds of feet down the beach.

People inscribe their sins on the wall of sand, and then grab fistfuls of the wall and toss the sand into the ocean.

"We want to do it in an ecological yet dramatic way," Leder said.

Mishkon Tephilo’s Rabbi Dan Shevitz is also concerned with the environmental effects of Tashlich, which is why he makes sure his group of hundreds clean up after themselves and feed the fish in moderation. But for him, the main problem is the entire concept of getting rid of your sins, shrugging them off like yesterday’s outfit.

"We don’t throw our sins out. As we have learned from environmentalists, there is no such thing as out. One can no longer flush [bread] into the sea and pretend it’s not there anymore," he said.

His Conservative temple has been practicing Tashlich since its inception in 1918, Shevitz said. But he tries to make it about feeding the fish, rather than unburdening yourself of sin.

"We don’t simply get rid of things, we have to improve them," Shevitz said. Your sins are a part of you, and if you try to throw it into the ocean, the wind will just throw it back in your face, he said.

"Real transformation [recognizes] that you are who you are, you have what you have, and you improve incrementally."

Can we get rid of our sins? Can we erase the past? Traditional liturgy seems to believe so. "Repentance, Prayer and Righteous acts temper judgement’s severe decree," we say in the "Unetaneh Tokef" prayer.

"Repentance is not rational," explained Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of Simon Wisenthal Center’s Project NextStep.

"There is really no human way of undoing what you’ve done. It is counterintuitive. But the holiday season teaches us that if we take the first steps, God will take care of the rest. The scapegoat of Leviticus symbolized our ability to rid ourselves of sins simply by completely dissociating ourselves from them, by exiling them far from our immediate world. Tashlich tells us the same — that not all sins penetrate to the core, but we can change if we will it."

This Sunday, when we stand at the water’s edge, the sun blinding us as it begins to gracefully ascent, we will rip off chunks of challah and cast it off into the tumultuous blue waters. Maybe a seagull will dive down and grab it, or a hungry fish will jump up in an arc and gobble it up.

Perhaps these creatures will have swallowed our sins, thus cleansing our souls, and ending the teshuva process.

On the other hand, having rid ourselves — symbolically or literally — of our worst transgressions, perhaps it signifies not an ending, but a beginning. After Tashlich, we are now ready to start anew.

For information on Tashlich services, see our Calendar on page 54.

For the Kids

Rosh Hashanah is upon us. We will use the shofar to blow us into the new year, we will dip apples in honey for a sweet year and our challah will be round just like the yearly cycle. Our new year will be celebrated this on Sept. 26, the 1st of Tishrei.

Here are some weird customs people perform on Rosh Hashanah that you might not know about:

Eating from the head of a sheep and saying: "May we be at the head and not at the tail."

Not napping on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. Why? Because if we do that on Rosh Hashanah we may end up "napping" through the year.

Eating a pomegranate. It is said that the pomegranate has 613 seeds — just like the number of mitzvot in the Torah.


Tashlich Time

Another ritual performed during Rosh Hashanah is Tashlich, which is the act of throwing your sins into running water. People use bread crumbs or rocks to symbolize their sins. They go to running water, such as the ocean or a river, because there are fish there. Fish never close their eyes, so they symbolize the ever-watchful eye of God. Cool, huh?

Apples & Almonds

How About This?

Make Rosh Hashanah Cookie Cutters

You will need:

3 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups margarine

1 beaten egg

2 teaspoons almond


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


rolling pin

floured board

cookie cutter(s)

cookie sheet

Combine ingredients. Mix, roll and cut out the dough. Bake until lightly browned at 375 F, about 12 minutes.