Saying Goodbye: Reframing Tashlich

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A Note from Rabbi Address: One of the challenges of our own aging is the tension of “holding on and letting go”. Rabbi Paulette Posner is a student in the Wurzweiler Social Work School of Yeshiva University’s Certification in Gerontology and Palliative Care. I teach in this program and Paulette, in a section on Rituals, wrote this piece. While Tashlich is usually associated with the New Year, we wanted to post this and invite you to adjust it for your own spiritual practice as we often are faced, throughout the year, with choices of how and when to “let go” of issues, beliefs, relationships etc. Thanks to Paulette and Rabbi Kamin whose ritual we posted recently. 

As we age, there are times when we need to say good-bye to an activity, such as bike riding, needlepoint, or reading the newspaper as our body ages and we no longer have the ability to function in the same way. This change can cause us to feel a variety of emotions ranging from sadness to frustration.

Traditionally, on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah we participate in Tashlich; the ritual for casting away our sins into a body of water. During this ceremony, we symbolically cast off the sins of the previous year by tossing pebbles or breadcrumbs into flowing water. It is traditional for people think of things they have done wrong in the past year and then “throw them away,” promising for improvement in the coming year.

In this ritual, the person (or group) is (are) invited to write down either (1) negative feelings that they do not want to carry with them, or (2) the thing that will no longer be a part of their lives (the bike, the fine print, the needlepoint, etc…) on water-soluble paper.  This is an opportunity to cast away the negative feelings or activities that are no longer a part of our lives and focus on the new things that they can do.

The pieces of paper are folded and then placed in a bowl of water. Each participant takes a turn stirring the water and acknowledging that it is time to say goodbye or let go. Participants can sit in a circle and choose whether or not they wish to share what they wrote on the paper. If done with an individual, then the rabbi can both facilitate and participate in the ritual. 

After the water is dissolved, I invite everyone to say the following (adapted from Tashlich):

A Prayer for Letting Go

Holy One of Blessing

Here I am

ready to let go of my ____

As I cast this paper into the bowl 

lift my troubles off my shoulders.

Open my heart to blessing and gratitude.

Allow me to focus on the new activities that I may now do.

Help us, restore us, renew us once more
As you’ve done many times before
Give us the strength to begin again
And guide us in all that we do.[1]


Conclude with Shehecheyanu;


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה.


Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.


Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

Ask participants to reflect upon the beauty of reaching this moment in their lives. 

[1] Hashivenu,

1 Comment

  1. During the Covid years, Temple Emanuel sent home water soluble paper for our home bound Taslich. At the time, I thought that was so much more meaningful to watch my sins disappear rather than throw bread or rocks in the water. I love the idea of doing this in a group, because to me Tashlich was always a group ritual.

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