It had been 6 years since I tagged along with friends to tashlich, the custom of "casting your bread upon the waters" on the first day of Rosh Hashanah to symbolize casting off sinful thoughts and ways. The body of water is supposed to contain fish; this one also supplies greedy swans and geese to gobble up transgressions.
With a bag of borrowed pita scraps, I gave myself a spiritual tune-up, just about halfway around the year from Good Friday. The swans don't offer absolution, but they are easier on the nerves than Confession.
The lake in Prospect Park draws a spectrum of Jewish celebrants, from cheerful Conservatives like my friends who sing and socialize, to earnest Lubavitcher proselytizers like those who checked us for shofars (we had one, blown with gusto by the young lady of the family), to intensely private Hassidic families like this one, in solemn prayer at the water's edge.
As I gazed across to the park's eastern edge, where a lone, loathsome condo now rises to mar the sylvan view, I wondered whether greedy developers and rotten architects ever cast their bread into the waters. And then remembered that one of the pieces of pita I'd tossed to the swans was for negativity and judgmentalism. Oops...well, there's always Good Friday 2016, and after that, another tashlich.