It seems natural that the Tashlich service, where a Jewish person symbolically tosses away his or her sins from the previous year, happens at the water—a soothing place of introspection and contemplation.

While most stand alongside a body of water to perform this High Holiday tradition, members of the Enfield & Winchmore Hill Synagogue in North London will plunge even deeper into the practice. Under the direction of Rabbi Yitzchok Tzvi and Tzipporah Sufrin—Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries at UK Headquarters in London who also lead the synagogue—more than 70 people will be welcomed aboard a “Tashlich Cruise” along the Grand Union Canal in London on Sunday, Sept. 20.

“We have captured the imagination and the excitement of our members by planning a nearly two-hour ride along one of London’s most beautiful inner canals, with scenery and places of interest along the way,” says Rabbi Sufrin. “Everyone will have a guided summary on the outward journey, and on the way back, a speaker will talk about and explain Tashlich.”

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Traditionally, Jews observe Tashlich on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, though the prayer can be said until the last day of Sukkot—the 21st day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, also known as Hoshanah Rabbah—which this year falls on Sunday, Oct. 4.

The group will recite the appropriate prayers, cast away their sins and give tzedakah (charity)—putting into practice the words of the Rosh Hashanah prayer “Unetaneh Tokef,” which says that “repentance, prayer and charity avert the severity of the decree.”

The Hakhel Year of Assembly

The idea for the cruise came from Tzipporah Sufrin, who was looking for an activity that would engage members of their shul and educate them about the practice of Tashlich.

Rabbi Yitzchok Tzvi and Tzipporah Sufrin
Rabbi Yitzchok Tzvi and Tzipporah Sufrin

“She’s very creative, imaginative, brainy, enthusiastic,” gushes her husband.

Clearly his wife was onto something, as the cruise is sold out, with a waiting list of those who would like to step on board.

And that’s good news, given that the second goal of the Tashlich cruise is to launch the Hakhel year with a community event. The Hakhel year refers to a biblical mitzvah (commandment) of assembling Jewish men, women and children to hear the reading of the Torah by the king of Israel once every seven years, following the sabbatical year known as Shemittah.

Rosh Hashanah began this year’s Hakhel cycle. And while there is no longer a Temple, the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—encouraged all Jews to join together to increase their Torah observance and study, and to follow G‑d’s commandments.

How apt, notes Rabbi Sufrin, that a grand union of Jews take place on the Grand Union Canal.

The canal near Bugbrooke (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The canal near Bugbrooke (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The canal at the confluence with the River Brent (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The canal at the confluence with the River Brent (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)