High Holy Days


Beloved IKARites,

Though we have mostly had to navigate this holiday season from a screen during this very challenging time, we have still managed to figure out a few ways for our community to safely see each other out in the real world. This Sunday IKAR helped organize the Shofar wave, an outdoor, socially-distant performance of Rosh Hashanah’s hallmark ritual. All week long, you can visit our beautiful Yizkor Memorial Garden at the IKAR office and we hope you’ll participate in our 10 Sites of Awe (www.10sitesofawe.ikar.org) for a spiritual treasure-hunt for the Ten Days of Teshuvah.

And now, a few important things to know about Tashlikh 5781:

We are excited to get out to the beach, to wave to one another and engage in this beautiful, simple ritual.

To keep everyone safe, there will be no formal service and no shofar blasts. We ask that you stay at least eight feet apart and wear a mask covering your mouth and nose at all times. We will come together at the Santa Monica beach between Ocean Park Boulevard and Marine Street. Please follow these lifeguard station assignments that will allow us to gather as safely as possible. Folks with last names that begin with the letters:

-A-H will meet at lifeguard station 28

-I-Q will meet at lifeguard station 27

-R-Z will meet at lifeguard station 26

Please read these tips on how to do a safe, meaningful, self-guided Tashlikh.

Your Self-Guided Tashlikh Ritual

-Identify some natural found objects and bring them to the waters’ edge.

The most common symbolic object traditionally cast away (see more below) is a piece of bread, which our ancestors hoped fish would come and swallow, just as Jonah was swallowed by the whale. But in recent years, we have become increasingly committed to minimal impact on our environment, so we now invite you find a stick, piece of seaweed or small stone to cast into the water.

-Take a breath. Reflect on the year that has passed and what you are ready to cast away. Then chuck that seaweed into the ocean, as far away from you as you possibly can. (Luckily social distancing means you won’t accidentally hit someone with it.)

And in the spirit of our annual IKAR Green Action Pre-Tashlikh Beach Clean-up, please safely pick up a few pieces of trash to leave the beach cleaner than we found it.

Kavvanah: What is Tashlikh, Anyway?

Tashlikh is a Hebrew word that means, “cast away.” It’s in the command form, as if speaking directly to us: “Hey you! Cast away…!”  But cast away what? Well, our sins, ostensibly – if we look back to the verse from which the ceremony takes its inspiration: “And You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)

And yet, this is a strange ritual for getting rid of our sins. Is it really so easy just to throw off old behaviors? And anyway, in the actual verse, it’s God who will cast away our sins, not us. Truly perplexing.

So maybe this ritual is less about active purging and more about simply letting go. Maybe what we are practicing is the willingness to be free of the bad habits and decisions we regret, and readying ourselves for some force beyond us, like a crashing wave, to come down and wash over us, and leave us feeling clean, revitalized, and liberated.

May this year bring a sense of hopeful renewal to all of us.