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Prayers at the water: Oklahoma City Jewish community symbolically casts off sins in traditional ceremony

Members of the Temple B'nai Israel and Emanuel Synagogue congregations recently gathered at Lake Hefner for a Tashlich service. The service is traditionally held at a body of water during the Jewish High Holy Days.
by Carla Hinton Modified: September 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: September 21, 2013

‘God will take us back'

The Tashlich ceremony is based on a verse from the book of Micah, “God will take us back in love; God will cover up our iniquities. The Lord will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea.” It also is based on another reference to water found in Isaiah: “In all the Holy Land, nothing evil or vile shall be done; for the land shall be filled with devotion to the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

The Lake Hefner event included Abby Jacobson, rabbi of Emanuel Synagogue, and Vered Harris, rabbi of Temple B'nai Israel.

Janiece Gratch and Myrna Page, co-directors of the combined synagogue and temple Sunday school, led older children who gathered at the Stars and Stripes Park pavilion through a series of exercises designed to help them understand the meaning of the Tashlich service before they gathered at the shore for the ritual.

On the other side of the pavilion, Jacobson played a game with younger children with a similar idea in mind.

Under the supervision of Gratch and Page, the youths chose pieces of paper with habits and flaws written on them, such as talking on the phone while eating, hitting, not sharing, yelling and lying. The young people threw the pieces of paper in a make-believe lake “so they would understand when it's time to do the real thing,” Gratch said.

“They were to write down things they hoped to be forgiven for,” she said.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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