How do you put a modern take on an ancient ritual? At the Rashi School, we had the opportunity to connect our focus on positive language and Kavod (respect) to the ancient ritual of Tashlich.
“What do we feel sorry about?”
“Using unkind words.”
“Annoying my sister.”
These are the answers one would come to expect when learning about Tashlich. Tashlich is the ritual by which we cast away the bad things from the year past. This involves throwing pieces of bread or other edible, fish-friendly food into a moving body of water. The food symbolizes things we wish to rid ourselves of as we look forward to a New Year and a fresh start. Typically, this takes place during the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Most teachings about Tashlich ask us to examine our actions from the past year with the hopes of doing better. In second grade, students considered these moments…and others.
“What are some of the things we treasure?”
Using the book Tashlich at Turtle Rock as a guide, students learned about the authors’ family traditions. Rather than focus exclusively on their shortcomings, this book asks students to consider really good things from the past year, the things they treasure, and something they hope to do in the coming year. Students wrote these ideas down in preparation for Tashlich at The Rashi School.
By writing down the things that they treasure, second graders were reinforcing the core value of Kavod (respect) that has been a focus of the entire Rashi community this school year. When it came time to partake in Tashlich, the Charles River was just steps away from the building, waiting to accept the students’ symbolic intentions. The bucolic setting served as a perfect place to reflect on lapses, triumphs, and wishes for the future. In that spirit, may we all begin this new year as our second graders have: leaving our failings behind, committing ourselves to positive action, and treasuring those that are important to us.