In Hebrew, tashlich means “casting off,” a phrase we hear a lot around Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—as in “casting off your sins.” In the Jewish tradition, we act out this phrase somewhat literally. We use small pieces of bread or other items to represent those sins, and in the Rosh Hashanah ceremony known as Tashlich, we cast that sin-laden bread into a body of flowing water, like an ocean, river or stream, to be carried away with the current. (Find the prayer traditionally recited here.)


That’s a bit heavy for kids, though. For littler ones, Rashi School Rabbi Jodi Seewald Smith suggests focusing on “the recognition that we may not have been our best self, but it’s not a blemish on who we are. It’s missing the mark, it’s refocusing, it’s aiming once again and shooting for the center,” she says. “We’re constantly making these choices, and this is the time of year that we want to make more good choices that help others and help the world.”

Here are her kid-friendly tashlich modifications.

Have fun with ink

“Take a piece of paper and with water-soluble markers, write down the things you want to get rid of, the things you want to throw away or the things you would like to expel from your life. And then put them in water, whether that’s a baby pool or buckets. Watch them disappear off the paper and symbolically see them removed,” she suggests.

Get positive

Instead of focusing on the negative with kids, encourage them to write down things they want to keep doing or try in the new year. “Flip it on its head and think about the things you want to do or the things you want to strengthen to make sure that it’s a year of kindness or generosity or love or patience. Attach them to candle sticks or a Kiddush cup. Then, on Shabbat, you have that weekly reminder of the things you set your mind to do,” she says.

Or consider keeping a good-deed jar in a prominent place and adding to it every week, writing down positive things a child did, such as completing homework on time or cleaning their room. Watch it fill up!

Fly paper airplanes

“Create paper airplanes and write down those things you want to ‘send away’ from yourself. Maybe this year, you fought with your brother. Try as hard as you can to fly the plane as far away as you can,” she says. For a twist, write a good intention (“I’ll spend more time with my brother”) on the other side.

Build a garden

Write down any negative attributes on rocks, then plant a seed next to it or bury it next to a flowering bush. “These attributes that we have to fight against are part of who we are, but if we can make choices, then they can turn into something beautiful,” she says.