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Wash Hashanah: Ridge Jews cleanse sins in waterfront ceremony

Sound it out: Guest cantor Moshe Halfon blows the shofar (a ram’s horn) to call people to service on Sept. 26.
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It’s a new year and a new slate.

Jews in Bay Ridge cast the year’s sins into the harbor for a clean start to the Jewish New Year in a Tashlich ceremony held at 79th Street and Shore Park on Sept. 28. Originally scheduled for the day before, rain put the kibbosh on the ceremony, but the faithful returned that Friday for a special service, according to the presiding rabbi.

“Instead, we did it on Friday, which ended up being really beautiful, and it allowed us to welcome in Shabbat,” said Rabbi Dina Rosenberg of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center.

Ridgites from the tribe gathered at the park for a scripture reading before reflecting on the year’s sins and symbolically shedding them by tossing bread into New York’s upper bay.

Rosenberg parleyed the ceremony into a Shabbat service, which she also held on the water. And there was a silver lining to the Tashlich happening a day late, Rosenberg said.

“We entered Shabbat pure and able to embrace god’s creation,” she said.

Guest cantor Moshe Halfon blew the Shofar — a ceremonial ram’s horn — to call the faithful to worship, and also played some tunes on a guitar during the Shabbat service, Rosenberg said.

The high holy days of Rosh Hashanah Sept. 24–26 rang in the Jewish year 5774.

A gentile who attended Friday’s ceremony with his Jewish family said he appreciated the ceremony for its culture and solemnity.

“It was an interesting ceremony in a nice setting, with the sun going down over Staten Island,” said Mark Caserta, whose son Jake participated in the Tashlich. “There was music and dancing there on the waterfront.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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