Every year Davis Academy 4th grade students take a special field trip to participate in the ritual of Tashlich. Tashlich involves "casting away" our sins into a body of living water by tossing pieces of bread. We don't toss bread into the Chattahoochee for environmental reasons. Instead we toss very small pebbles.
There are a couple of things that make our 4th grade Tashlich field trip special. First, the students are incredibly well prepared, having taken time in Jewish Studies to learn about the ritual and to deeply reflect on the year that is about to end. They read special stories and make a list of "sins" that they want to "cast away." They bring the list with them on the field trip and show tremendous cavod as they participate in the ritual itself.
Their preparedness and seriousness is one of the factors that makes this field trip so meaningful. Another is that fact that it is one of the first Jewish experiences that these children have independent of their parents. More often than not, when it comes to Jewish experiences, we are eager to invite parents to participate. In this case we do not invite parents, mostly because it is such an individual and personal ritual. Whether the students realize it or not they are being given an opportunity to create their own meaning out of a Jewish ritual and experience. As they continue their journey through Davis and beyond the more opportunities they have to create their own meanings surrounding different aspects of Jewish life and practice the more likely they will continue to seek meaning and purpose in their Jewish lives. Our goal at The Davis Academy is to create thoughtful, educated, engaged Jews who bring vibrancy and purpose to their Judaism and their Jewish communities. Tashlich is an important step on this journey.