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Ancient Rosh Hashanah Tradition Lives On In Franklin Lakes

Young congregants from Chabad of NW Bergen County practice Tashlich, a series of psalms and rituals performed by a flowing body of water, during Sunday School with their teachers.
Young congregants from Chabad of NW Bergen County practice Tashlich, a series of psalms and rituals performed by a flowing body of water, during Sunday School with their teachers. Photo Credit: Chanoch Kaplan
Students recite psalms at a stream near the synagogue during Sunday School with their teachers.
Students recite psalms at a stream near the synagogue during Sunday School with their teachers. Photo Credit: Chanoch Kaplan
Rabbi Chanoch Kaplan speaks during a benefit dinner for the Chabad of NW Bergen County.
Rabbi Chanoch Kaplan speaks during a benefit dinner for the Chabad of NW Bergen County. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. — Rabbi Chanoch Kaplan has fond memories of walking the streets of Baltimore surrounded by his entire community for an ancient Jewish tradition called Tashlich , “to cast," in honor of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

In symbolic fashion, he tossed small pieces of bread into a stream to the tune of chirping birds and murmuring community members, as if throwing away his sins in order to emerge with a new identity.

Kaplan will continue the tradition tomorrow following afternoon prayer services at the Chabad of Northwest Bergen County on Pulis Avenue.

Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown tonight and ends at sundown on Tuesday.

“It takes the ritual experience out of the synagogue world and into the heart of nature and a pristine and relaxing environment,”said Kaplan, who will lead his congregation through a dense forest and along a winding path to recite psalms, share stories and reflect on the year by the banks of a stream.

“It’s almost as if it’s the new year and you’re plugging back into creation. It’s a very renewing experience.”

Tashlich is traditionally performed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah after the afternoon prayers, Kaplan said.

It’s a long-lost tradition in some communities, he said, but Kaplan hopes his members will find beauty in it as he always has and will pass it down generation to generation.

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