November 21, 2019

Casting Away Our Sins, California-style

We went to Santa Monica beach today to join other Southern Californian Jews who were casting their sins into the vast Pacific Ocean as part of the Tashlich ritual that takes place between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. The general idea is that the breadcrumbs we cast into the water represent our sins, and by tossing them aside, they will be removed from our souls, at least for the time being. It was a picture-perfect autumn day at the beach, with the golden mid-day sun, a slight breeze, and the palm trees waving in the background. There were a lot of surfers in the waves, wearing their bodysuits because even now, at the end of September, the water temperature is still on the chilly side. Who knows what they thought of the sight of all of us?

As we approached the shoreline with our slightly stale challah and discarded bread heels, the seagulls began to descend on us, cawing and circling. I took a chunk of bread and threw it as far as I could, thinking, “This is for losing my patience”. A seagull swooped down and grabbed it before it could even get completely saturated with salty ocean water. I tore away another piece of bread and flung it away, whispering, “This is for not slowing down to get things done right the first time.” The crumb traveled out one wave, and came right back where it started from, where it began to sink into the wet sand. And then I took the last of my bread and threw it at a crest of wave, just moving away from the shore and said, “This is for getting too caught up in negative thoughts,” and the piece of bread kept moving forward, heading towards the horizon.

May 5775 be a good, sweet, and inclusive year for all!