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‘Tashlich’ for justice in Palestine

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Together we cast away all that keeps us from being principled partners for justice in Palestine.

During tashlich, a ritual that takes place during or soon after Rosh Hashana (the Jewish new year), Jews traditionally throw crumbs or pebbles into a moving body of water to symbolically cast away our transgressions over the past year. Jewish feminist poet, translator, and liturgist Marcia Falk called a gender-inclusive ritual she created, nashlich, which means “we will cast,” as opposed to tashlich, “You [God, masculine] will cast.”  

Tashlich/nashlich can take many forms and has also been adapted by social justice groups and others as a collective action to commit ourselves to thinking deeply about what we can do to make meaningful change in the coming year and to be more thoughtful in our work for justice.

We would like to draw upon the theme of tashlich/nashlich to focus specifically on the ways we and our communities can reflect upon, challenge ourselves about, and cast away all that keeps us from being full-hearted partners to the Palestinian movement for justice. These examples have grown out of our own experiences within Jewish social justice spaces.

What is it we are casting away; what are the commitments we are making?

  1. We cast away any inhibitions or hesitations we have—particularly when others in our communities are making it clear they don’t want us to “rock the boat” or be too “extreme”– to being visible in our demand for justice for the Palestinian people.
  2. We cast away any attempts within our communities to conflate criticism of Zionism or Israeli policies with antisemitism, even from those whose passionate critiques challenge us.
  3. We cast away any resistance among us to speaking the truth for fear of being shunned, or not invited to certain gatherings, or considered “unkosher” by other Jewish organizations.
  4. We cast away reckless attacks and character assassinations on activists for justice whose critiques of Israel’s behavior and of Zionism include language such as “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “genocide.”  
  5. We cast away any barriers within our communities to raising concerns of Palestinian rights in social and racial justice spaces that don’t focus exclusively on Palestine.
  6. We cast away the notion of exceptionalism in all its forms.
  7. We cast away any reluctance to having humility in all we do.

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz. (Photo: Jews for Racial and Economic Justice)

In each of the above, we commit to reflecting upon our actions; challenging our behavior; and, together with others, pursuing what is just.

In memory of the wise and compassionate Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, we end with her words for our own self-reflection:

“And among all the sins we hurled into the ocean, the sin of self-hate and the sin of failing to feel compassion for others mingled, as indeed they should, for they are the same sin.”

Donna Nevel

Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, is a founding member of Jews Say No!, Facing the Nakba, and Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism (JAAMR), and is a member of JVP-South FL.

Other posts by .

Alan Levine

Alan Levine is a civil rights and constitutional lawyer, and a member of Jews Say No! and Jewish Voice for Peace—South FL.

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26 Responses

  1. gamal on September 5, 2018, 5:19 pm

    “We cast away..”

    and what do you accept? what responsibility do you accept, there is no evading responsibility, did you hear what the Persian said…we have been for a long at this game…we don’t throw away we put in the stove and burn, it hurts but it is the viagra of the spirit, i don’t know what you mean by cast away dive in, i worry religious people we are such cowards

    “Belief and unbelief
    both have their origin
    in your hypocrite’s heart;
    the way is only long
    because you delay to start on it:
    one single step
    would bring you to him:
    become a slave,
    and you will be a king.”

    some Persian dude, who was not a puddle, to say he is thats a big thing to say.

  2. Xpat on September 5, 2018, 9:29 pm

    Nice idea.
    For the record, there’s no need to change the name of the ritual to include women. Although the Biblical origin of the ritual (from Jonah’s prayer, in Jonah 2:4) is in the masculine (2nd person), “Tashlich” is also feminine when used in the 3rd person.

  3. Marnie on September 5, 2018, 11:59 pm

    More BS ‘tradition’ in the name of symbolism without substance.

  4. Marnie on September 6, 2018, 9:27 am

    Just read the funniest story about monica lewinsky being asked by a Hadashot ‘journalist’ if she expected a private apology from bill clinton. Ms lewinsky apologized and said she couldn’t do this (the interviewer) and walked off the stage. According to ML, she met the reporter the day before and told her that questions about clinton were off limits. Funny that she put her faith in a reporter in jerusalem.

    No apologies were given by Hadashot, who claimed they were operating within the parameters set by ML and had done nothing wrong. What a shock.

    When will people learn – you can trust an israeli as far as you can throw one. It seems they really love to humiliate people. She must have gotten to love in while serving in the IOF. So much so she broake the confidence of an interviewee then had the nerve to touch her shoulder as she was getting up to leave the stage. Unfucking believable. Hey! No worries though! Just throw some stale bread in the yarkon. Lovely ‘tradition’ these heathens have.

  5. Nzm on September 6, 2018, 1:07 pm

    Beautiful – filled with the meaningfulness of action and intention. These community commitments are, in fact, substantive, as they/we create and make change, within our communities and beyond.

  6. janeinmia on September 6, 2018, 7:34 pm

    There is so much I want to cast away and your thoughts here are very inspiring. I can’t wait to participate — casting away metaphorically and in concrete fashion as well.

  7. jon s on September 8, 2018, 4:26 pm

    With the High Holy Days about to begin, this is indeed a time to reflect on the themes of repentance and forgiveness, which are so important on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

    Here’s wishing everyone a good year, Shana Tova. May it be a year of peace.

    • echinococcus on September 8, 2018, 6:05 pm

      Yeah, if you repent for invading and get out of Palestine PDQ, you may perhaps still ask for forgiveness.

    • Mooser on September 8, 2018, 6:27 pm

      “this is indeed a time to reflect on the themes of repentance and forgiveness”

      Well, so much for those murders and shootings by the IDF during the March of Return.

      Awww, gee, that’s so nice “Jon s”. Are you thinking about forgiving the Palestinians, or are their offenses too serious for that?

      BTW, “Jon s” trying to obfuscate murder and theft with sanctimonious piety is disgusting. Who do you think you are fooling? Do you really expect people to fall for that?

    • eljay on September 8, 2018, 6:43 pm

      || jon s: … May it be a year of peace. ||

      May it be a year of justice, accountability and equality everywhere and for everyone.

    • Talkback on September 9, 2018, 4:06 am

      @ jon s

      16-year-old Gazan Shot to Death by Israeli Soldiers While Waving His Hands;
      (Full text:

      Comment Nr. 3:
      “No God, I can’t.

      I can’t stand before you this Rosh ha-shannah, this Day of Judgment, and expect to plead for forgiveness. I can’t pound my chest on Yom Kippur and say we, the Jewish People, have sinned for acts of violence this Yom Kippur only days away, while burned into my brain is the image of this boy with a bloody hole in his back from a bullet from the gun of a heartless Jew for whom I am now supposed to ask your cleansing mercy. I say, dear God, NO I CAN’T. If You forgave him, or our People for letting that soldier become who he is, I don’t know how You could be my God.”

      • Marnie on September 9, 2018, 9:35 am

        @ talkback
        re: comment nr. 3 – You wrote some of what I’ve been feeling for a long time but couldn’t write so clearly and forcefully as it’s all coming down to expletives for me. Yours is the most sincere prayer (that’s how I see it) I’ve read. I feel nothing for the holy days but sadness, guilt, loss and mourning.

      • annie on September 9, 2018, 9:49 am

        talkback, that video is horrific. this slaughtering of civilians, the minds of the killers, i find it unfathomable — how they got like this. is it like a sport for them? the killing of a human who poses no threat to them whatsoever. how do they sleep at night?

      • Maghlawatan on September 9, 2018, 10:12 am


        The Israeli education system brainwashes Jewish kids so they can serve in the army and kill people in Gaza as ordered to. There was over 90% Israeli Jewish approval for the 2014 war in Gaza. Israel is a moral swamp.

      • Talkback on September 9, 2018, 11:07 am

        @ Marnie. It wasn’t my comment. I just found it.
        @ Annie. Yes, it is sport for them. They are just not standing on a balcony.

      • Marnie on September 9, 2018, 11:39 am

        @talkback –

        I thought it was yours. Who is the author?

      • Talkback on September 9, 2018, 3:46 pm

        @ Marnie

        Comment nr. 3 below the Haaretz article:
        “abram epstein 17:31 08.09.2018

        (Click on the title “No God, I can’t.” to expand the comment.)

      • Ayla1984 on September 10, 2018, 3:03 am

        Out of context Reply here, but given the News is almost always bad among the couple of glimpses of hope, I thought I would just post this Video:
        A Palestinian band, it is set in Bethlehem, it is about a guy’s love but who has nothing material to ‘offer’ for marriage

        We need to open the platform for Palestinian artists, People are so desenisitized that you can talk about injustive a Million years and they still won’t care, music on the other Hand can do the talking for itself and find a way to peoples hearts

    • Marnie on September 9, 2018, 8:11 am

      jon s –
      Your seasons greetings are as welcome as stepping in a pile of dog mess. It makes my skin crawl every time a holiday comes along to read your saccharine prose about wishes for a good year, an easy fast and peace (really jon?) or whatever it is and am positive that is your intent. That is a an offense to God and anyone else who reads your BS. I hate a person who will wish peace and supports the occupation of the indigenous people of Palestine (who aren’t you or I). Wishing you would go away.

      • Mooser on September 9, 2018, 1:06 pm

        “Marnie”, do you have any idea why “Jon s” thinks this BS is 1) appropriate, and 2) effective?

      • Marnie on September 9, 2018, 11:59 pm

        Yes; I stand with my thoughts about why he does it as above. It is ‘the banality of evil’. It’s not thoughtful, innocent or innocuous.

  8. jon s on September 9, 2018, 8:28 am

    I wish you Shana Tova umetuka, a good year, a sweet year.
    May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.

    • Marnie on September 9, 2018, 9:18 am

      jon s –
      I had a wish for you too but for some reason it didn’t pass moderation.

      • Mooser on September 9, 2018, 12:59 pm

        “Jon s” pimps Judaism, again.

        “Jon s” it may surprise you to know that people can tell the difference between the sound of the shofar and flatulence. All kinds of people.

      • Marnie on September 10, 2018, 7:13 am

        That was totally wicked Moosieur

  9. Boomer on September 10, 2018, 1:26 pm

    Thank you for this. It is good to be reminded that in every nation and time there are those who aspire to embrace humanity and to transcend what divides us.

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