A Feminist Tashlich

Tashlich ("to cast away") is a ceremony generally conducted on the first day of Rosh Hashanah in which we symbolically cast our sins into water. The custom of going to a body of water is a symbolic allusion, for the waters which now seem to be at this place were not here before and will not remain afterward. So, if the sinner says to himself or herself: "I will not repeat my sin; my behavior will change," the sin, like the waters, will move on.

Here I am again

ready to let go of my mistakes.

Help me to release myself

from all the ways I've missed the mark.

Help me to stop carrying

the karmic baggage of my poor choices.

As I cast this bread upon the waters

lift my troubles off my shoulders.

Help me to know that last year is over,

washed away like crumbs in the current.

Open my heart to blessing and gratitude.

Renew my soul as the dew renews the grasses.

- Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

The Ashamnu is an alphabetical acrostic of different sins we have committed. It is said in first-person plural, because while each individual may not have committed these specific sins, as a community we surely have, and our fates are intertwined on this day. There are many modern interpretations of Ashamnu - this one is entitled "An Ashamnu for the Mindset of Privilege" from Fringes: A Feminist, Non-Zionist Havurah (study group).

We have abandoned, we have appropriated, we have analyzed, we have arbitrated
We’ve belittled, we have broken faith, we have turned our backs, we have believed the unbelievable

We have grown numb, we’ve given too little, we’ve given too late, we have given up
We have denied, we have distorted, we have hesitated, we have held our tongues

We have victim-blamed, we have zoned out, we have chided, we have chastised
We have taken, we have turned away, we have yielded, we have yet to act

We have kept to ourselves, we’ve been complicit, we have laughed off, we have relied on the law,
We’ve made excuses, we have minimized, we’ve made light of, we have mocked

We have not noticed, we have neglected, we have negated, we have sent our regrets
We’ve averted our eyes, we have forsaken, we have pitied, we’ve failed to imagine new possibilities

We have explained, we’ve criticized, we have rationalized, we’ve refused responsibility
We’ve shamed the innocent, we have silenced, we have suppressed, we have failed to support

We have talked, we have talked, we have talked, but we have not listened
We have not sought the truth, we’ve theorized, we have told ourselves lies, and we have believed them

We cast into the depths of the sea our sins, and failures, and regrets.

Reflections of our imperfect selves flow away.

What can we bear,

with what can we bear to part?

We upturn the darkness, bring what is buried to light.

What hurts still lodge,

what wounds have yet to heal?

We empty our hands,

release the remnants of shame,

let go fear and despair

that have dug their home in us.

Open hands, opening heart —

The year flows out, the year flows in.

- Marcia Falk

On this sacred day

when the old year slips away

we prepare to meet the year ahead,

we stand at the water’s edge

our pockets lined with dust and bread,

symbols of our shortcomings and regrets.

Many are the regrets and sorrows

that weigh upon our souls,

let us cast them off into the moving waters

so we may begin anew.

Great is our regret

for the harsh words we have spoken,

the tender words we left unsaid,

for the anger we let smolder,

the compassion we withheld,

for our greed and jealousy,

our lack of generosity.

for all that we could have done,

all that we have left undone.

Many are the regrets and sorrows

that weigh upon our souls,

let us cast them into the moving waters

so we can strive to become

all that we were meant to be.

Great is our remorse

for the energy we spent fighting

instead of trying to make amends,

for the times we could have lent a hand

instead of keeping our hands by our sides,

for the times we looked away from those near and far

who need our help and caring,

when we turned away from the places in the world

in need of repairing.

Many are the regrets and sorrows

that weigh upon our hearts and souls,

let us cast them into the moving waters

so we can begin to build bridges

connecting us one to another.

- Elizabeth Tragash

May we be blessed this Rosh Hashanah that all our prayers are answered, as Hannah’s were answered, with joy and with gratitude. May our words be heard, may our cries rise to the heavens and penetrate the skies, may they cause vibrations in the earth that shake the universe at its very core. May we all find a way to reach the heart of ourselves and connect to the Divine in our own way, and line up a year of joy, blessing, prosperity, goodness, health, abundance, magic and love to all beings.

- Rishe Groner