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Congregation Emanu-El Israel participates in Tashlich service

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

On a warm afternoon at Twin Lakes Park, about a dozen members of Congregation Emanu-El Israel in Greensburg gathered Thursday to shed the things weighing on their minds the past year so they can start the new year afresh.

They were participating in a Tashlich service, which is part of Rosh Hashana, the celebration of the Jewish new year, 5778. Tashlich means “casting off” in Hebrew.

“Being able to remember them is important, so we can let go of them,” said Rabbi Stacy Petersohn, the new leader at Congregation Emanu-El Israel. She asked for a moment of silence so all could recall “the things you are ready to let go of.”

The group gathered near the shores of the lower lake east of Greensburg, but could not throw anything in the water, such as a symbolic piece of bread, due to park rules prohibiting fish feeding, Petersohn said.

“Cast away your signs, your bad acts, your sins of the past year,” Petersohn intoned.

The ritual usually is performed at a large, natural body of flowing water on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Petersohn was continuing a tradition practiced by retired Rabbi Sara Perman. It's a tradition, however, that not all congregations follow, she said.

“It ebbs and flows,” but “we are seeing stronger search for some of the traditions that 30 to 40 years ago fell by the wayside,” said Petersohn, a native of San Francisco.

“It's a lovely tradition,” said Ronda Goetz, a member of the congregation.

To fellow congregant Joel Last of Greensburg, “it's part of the tradition we've been doing for years.”

Petersohn and Goetz said the Jewish new year is not topped off with celebrations such as festive New Year's Eve parties. Instead, Petersohn said this is a time for preparation for Yom Kippur, the day of atonement and one of the most important holidays in Judaism.

It begins on sundown Sept. 29.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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