‘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.”

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“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… Read more »

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.

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

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… Read more »

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.