Jewish environmental group recommends ‘reverse tashlich’ to release sins, clean shores

By Esther D. Kustanowitz
eJewish Philanthropy
September 14, 2023

Repair the Sea has dozens of communities signed up for cleanup projects near oceans, seas and rivers this year, from the U.S. to New Zealand and Ukraine

Every year, during the High Holy Days, Jews gather at rivers, oceans or other bodies of water for a ritual that gives physical form to the act of repentance: throwing sins (traditionally, bread crumbs or pieces as iniquity proxies) into the water and watching them wash away. This is tashlich, a ritual that comes with liturgical texts and rich symbolism that makes an emotional impact, but also pollutes the marine environment.

The leaders of Repair the Sea, a global organization that envisions a clean ocean with abundant marine life through a Jewish lens, have proposed a “reverse tashlich” — a beach cleanup to remove human “sins” from the water. For those who want the symbolic gesture of tossing something away, Repair the Sea suggests using pebbles or shells from the beachfront.

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