Susan’s Book Talk: New Year at the Pier


Happy Jewish New Year to all of us, even if you’re not Jewish. (You just might follow a religion based on Judaism, and that means that new year wishes ought to extend to you, at least in my book.)

I have a TON (almost literally) of books to gush about. I’ve been reading up a storm over here, and I need to do more than read. I need to talk about them and share the word.

I’m picking April Halprin Wayland’s New Year at the Pier to talk about first because it’s a book about a special tradition — one so special that I never knew about it until the Tour Manager spirited me out of the city and up here, to West of Mars.

I fell in love with the special Tashlich service from the get-go. During Tashlich, Jews symbolically cast their sins into a body of water. It’s usually done with bread, but our congregation usually uses corn. The Canada Geese love us.

Think about it. To take something physical and toss it into the water, to be (in theory) swept away, out to sea. And you’re left with this empty room that you’re presumably trying to fill with goodness…

I love it.

April’s book, New Year at the Pier, takes it a step further. Yes, this is a children’s book! It’s a picture book! And darn it, it’s a moving story of a little boy, Izzy, who feels the need to apologize to the people around him for the wrongs he’s committed throughout the year.

This is really what the holiday is about. If you’re not Jewish, maybe all you know of the Jewish High Holy Days is that Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. Yom Kippur is some holy day when people fast. As a Jew, for a long time, that was about all I got out of the holidays. I’ll admit it.

However, I’ve since learned that it’s more than that. There’s a spirit that’s supposed to imbue us during these 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It’s about introspection, it’s about apologizing for what we’ve done wrong and forgiving others for hurting us.

Man, that last sentence… apologizing and forgiving. It’s hard work. In April’s book, Izzy manages to.

I only wish I could.



  1. samulli

    September 21, 2009 3:37 pm

    That sounds like a nice custom, even for religion-allergic person like me.
    Though personally I would feel guilty about literally feeding my sins to the poor geese.
    (I know it’s just symbolic and all, and I’m probably taking this way too literal, but it seems unfair to me.)
    .-= samulli´s last blog ..Is it Thursday again already? =-.

  2. April

    September 21, 2009 10:15 pm

    L’Shana Tova! Corn–brilliant! And I love how you put it:
    “Think about it. To take something physical and toss it into the water, to be (in theory) swept away, out to sea. And you’re left with this empty room that you’re presumably trying to fill with goodness…”

    So happy to have met you just west of Mars, Susan.
    .-= April´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

  3. Thomma Lyn

    September 21, 2009 11:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing, about the symbolism associated with Tashlich. I love it. 🙂
    .-= Thomma Lyn´s last blog ..Optimism =-.

  4. Anne

    September 22, 2009 9:27 am

    I love the symbolism of starting with a clean slate. That sounds like a great book for kids. I will have to check it out. Off to my library Web site to order it.
    .-= Anne´s last blog ..Fall, Chocolate and Exercise! Why Can’t I Find My Take 5? =-.

  5. Jane

    September 22, 2009 11:39 am

    Apologizing and forgiving is hard. I have a very difficult time with it. I find it’s much easier to do so with certain people than it is with others.

    Thanks for the info on Tashlich, that’s very interesting. I’m always interested in learning new things about other religions and spirituality.

    Have a wonderful day,


  6. susan

    September 22, 2009 1:13 pm

    Aww, thanks, April! And Jane, I share your interest. I was WAY too sheltered as a kid from any religion but my own (and that was, apparently, iffy).
    .-= susan´s last blog ..Susan’s Book Talk: New Year at the Pier =-.

  7. carol

    September 22, 2009 1:29 pm

    I don’t know anything about Jewish holidays and traditions, but the Tashlich service sounds really special. I love the symbolism.
    .-= carol´s last blog ..Teaser Tuesday =-.

  8. Petula

    September 23, 2009 10:59 pm

    Wow, that’s very interesting. I learned something. I need to work on a little forgiveness myself. I would apologize, but I have no idea what I did. Maybe if I forgive then I can stop hurting, stop thinking, stop mulling and stewing. Maybe the “ominous” feeling I have will go away! (I just had to use the word!)
    .-= Petula´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Poor monkey, forgotten squid =-.

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