Har Sinai to Celebrate Jewish New Year with Environmentally Friendly Service at Rosedale Lake

Northbound view of lake at Rosedale Park, Hopewell, NJ March 19, 2011.The Har Sinai Hebrew Congregation will celebrate the Jewish New Year with a little twist to the “Tashlik” tradition of tossing food into bodies of water this year.

The tradition involves holding a short service alongside a body of water that contains marine life. At the ceremony’s conclusion, observers are asked to symbolically throw away their sins of the past year, generally in the form of foodstuffs, into the body of water. Often the sins are represented by pieces of bread.

But this time around, Har Sinai will ask participants to throw lettuce into the water instead of bread in order to better accommodate the dietary needs of waterfowl, fish, and other marine life.

“Often in life we need a tangible representation of going from one point of evolving to another,” says Rabbi Stuart Pollack, spiritual leader of Har Sinai Hebrew Congregation. “Judaism has built in a ceremony on the first day of Rosh Hashanah that gives us a realistic point of reference for our lives. It provides an opportunity to alleviate the oppressiveness of our lives that can often be a hindrance to how we evolve as people.”

Pollack says the tashlik tradition started in medieval times, although concept of making amends with sins through tangible means, such as sacrificing an animal, goes back to biblical times. Sacrificing is also referenced in the Torah, the first five books that are the central reference to the religion of Judaism.

The entire community, regardless of religious or congregational affiliation, is invited to participate in the tashlik.

Rosh Hashanah will be observed from sundown Sunday, Sept. 13, through sundown Tuesday, Sept. 15. The family-friendly tashlik service, which is appropriate for young children, will begin at 2
p.m. next to Rosedale Lake in Hopewell. The act of Tashlik for all age groups will begin at 2:30 p.m.

Rosedale Lake is located within Rosedale Park, a part of Mercer Meadows. The lake can be accessed via the via the entrance from Federal City Road in Hopewell.

Har Sinai Hebrew Congregation, founded in 1857 in Trenton, is a Reform Jewish Congregation that is affiliated with the Union of Reform Judaism. The congregation serves as home to people from Mercer, Hunterdon, Burlington and Middlesex Counties in New Jersey, as well as Bucks County in Pennsylvania. Har Sinai is located at 2421 Pennington Road in Pennington.