The ceremony of Tashlich is a customary Jewish atonement ritual generally performed in the afternoon of the second day of Rosh Hashana.
Tashlich, from the Hebrew “to cast off,” involves throwing pieces of bread or stones into flowing water in a symbolic way to get rid of one’s sins. Afterwards, for good measure, some people turn their pockets inside-out and shake out any crumbs.
The name and the practice itself derive from a biblical passage in the book of Micah that is recited at the ceremony: “You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. / You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Tel Avivians have been performing Tashlich since the city’s founding. In 1926 (or possibly earlier), photographer Shimon Korban documented the ceremony as it took place near the construction site of Tel Aviv’s first Opera House. This structure, with its unusual triangular shaped colonnade, still exists today at the end of Allenby Street.
Also in 1926, Korban photographed members of the Yemenite community performing the ceremony on the shore adjacent to their eponymous neighborhood, Kerem HaTeimanim.
There was no tradition of Tashlich among Yemenite Jews but the community adopted the ceremony after arriving in pre-State Israel.
In 1931, people gathered near what would eventually become the Port of Tel Aviv, then still in the planning stages.
Over the next 10 years, the city experienced a boom in construction, as well as an influx of immigrants escaping the rise of Nazism in Germany. By the time Tashlich was performed in 1941, the seashore was lined with structures designed by Bauhaus-trained architects.
Construction continued throughout the decades along the shoreline as Tel Aviv continued to grow northwards.
Although the rite itself is a solemn one, the gathering has become a social event, combining Jewish tradition and beach culture. These days, Tel Avivians from all sides of the religious spectrum can be found honoring tradition and celebrating the beach at Tashlich ceremonies.