DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – As the sun began to set Monday, hundreds of people threw their pieces of bread into the Hudson River at Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park.
The ceremony, called the Tashlikh, occurs on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, celebrating the Jewish new year. Greenburgh Hebrew Center congregants went to the park to throw the bread and symbolize the casting away of their sins.
Members of the Greenburgh Hebrew Center have come to the Dobbs Ferry Park for 49 years to observe Tashlikh, and Rabbi Barry Kenter loves seeing the event grow every year.
"It's such an active ritual, and it's also a way for the Jewish community to get together, socialize and prepare for Yom Kippur," said Kenter, who has been a rabbi at the center for 28 years.
Around 4:30 p.m., Kenter gathered those who attended the event and led a traditional Tashlikh prayer. The crowd then spread out across the edge of the park to throw pieces of bread into the river.
Games and light refreshments followed – fun activities meant to celebrate the cleansing and the beginning of the new year, Kenter said.
Gary Holsten came up from New York City to attend the Greenburgh Hebrew Center's Tashlikh, bringing his wife and two daughters for the annual event. His mother lives in Dobbs Ferry and he has come to the park numerous times, he said.
"It's very special and very meaningful. A good way to start the new year," Holsten said.
The Tashlikh is also an annual family event for the Berliners, who are members of the Hebrew Center. Lynn Berliner helped her daughter Charlotte, 8, throw her bread into the river.
"We love doing this. It's one of our favorite parts of Rosh Hashanah," Lynn Berliner said. "It's an opportunity to think about how to change the following year, and being out here with nature just enhances the experience."