Ahoy there! Project connects Jews to sea

Ahoy there! Project connects Jews to sea

Project seeks to refresh link between communities and the oceans, in a bid to keep it clean and remove 'sins' from the water

 A Florida-based project aimed at reconnecting Jews people to the sea and encouraging them to keep it clean is attracting attention from communities around America and Israel.

On Rosh Hashanah, in a ceremony known as tashlich, Jews throw bread in running water as a symbol of cleansing themselves of their sins. The ‘Reverse Tashlich’ project calls on communities to change the process and remove the human “sins” from the water in waterfront clean-ups.

The project is part of the Tikkun HaYam (“repairing the sea”) initiative launched last year. It was founded by Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, also the founder of Scubi Jew, a Hillel club that teaches marine conservation with a Jewish twist.

Rosenthal said: “The scheme applies a modern context to an ancient practice. In addition, it is intended to raise awareness about one of the greatest existential threats to our planet, the ongoing destruction of the ocean.”

Every year, millions of tons of man-made debris pollute global waters. ‘Reverse Tashlich’ started as a small  programme at the Suncoast Hillel in Tampa Bay, Florida.

The programme then expanded under the leadership of Shayna Cohen, director of Tikkun HaYam, and last year’s first annual event included nine locations and 307 participants.

Some 650 pounds of rubbish were collected from Miami, Tampa Bay, and Washington, D.C. This year, on 6 October, groups in Boston, Minnesota, California, New York, and Israel took part.

Rosenthal added: “Water is the source of life. If the ocean dies, we die.
I can’t think of a more tikkun olam [healing the world] effort than that.”

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