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“A true apology has three parts:
1) I’m sorry;
2) It was my fault;
3) How can I make it better?”
~ author unknown

Tashlich is about cleaning your life’s slate for the new year.

Want some inspiration?

Quotations about forgiveness and apologizing are below.

Check out these moving photos of pairs of perpetrators and survivors in
Portraits of Reconciliation from The New York Times Magazine:

photo from the NY Times Magazine by Pieter Hugo

photo by Pieter Hugo    NY Times Magazine

Here’s a wonderful blog post by educator Kathleen Max on “how to teach a child to say I’m sorry”

Here’s an article on the healing power of forgiveness by Elise Cose.

And did you know that 2009 was the International Year of Reconciliation?

Before writing New Year at the Pier, I interviewed my friend, Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Beth Shir Sholom Temple in Santa Monica, California.  Rabbi Neil is very tuned into kids; he’s written many albums of children’s songs.

I just re-read my notes from that afternoon and realize how much of what he taught me infuses the book.   Look over my shoulder at a few of my notes:

  • Rabbi Neil doesn’t like using the word “mistake”, as mistake means not on purpose, and sometimes you do some of these things on purpose.
  • There’s a famous story of a man who tells his rabbi that he gossiped and now he’s sorry and wants the rabbi to help him make it right. “I can’t,” says the rabbi. “What? What do you mean?” asks the man. “I really am sorry. I want to make it right.”   “No can do,” says the rabbi. “But why not?” asks the man. “Go get me a knife and a feather pillow,” says the rabbi. The man does. The rabbi stabs the feather pillow and takes out all the feathers and throws them to the winds. “See?” says the rabbi.  “A situation can be changed through apology, but not completely fixed.”
  • Rabbi Neil’s example, regarding how you can’t fix something completely, was of a child stealing a doll and bringing it back. She might bring the doll back, but she can’t make her friend trust her again.
  • Not: “It’s okay.” (Because maybe it’s not okay.) But: “I accept your apology.”


“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
~ Lewis B. Smedes

“Those who cannot forgive others break the bridge over which they themselves must pass.”~ Confucius, philosopher and teacher (c. 551-478 BCE)

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.”
~ Peter Ustinov

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
~ Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

“A true apology has three parts: 1) I’m sorry; 2) It was my fault; 3) How can I make it better?” ~ author unknown

“We achieve inner health only through forgiveness – the forgiveness not only of others but also of ourselves” ~ Joshua Loth Liebman

“So how do you remove your character defects? In Judaism, the word for sin is the Hebrew “chet.” It is actually an archery term meaning to miss the mark. In life nobody is a perfect marksman who hits the bulls eye every time. We will often miss the mark and produce chet. Our goal is to grow spiritually so that we miss the mark less and less, and our chets become smaller and smaller.” ~ Rabbi Arthur Segal

“If you have a lot of sins, you can bring a whole loaf!” ~Lucy Muller

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~ Paul Boese

I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach. ~ Maya Angelou

“You’ve got to make things right with someone else.  You’re responsible.” ~ Bruce Balan

When you realize you’ve made a mistake, make amends immediately.  It’s easier to eat crow while it’s still warm.  ~Dan Heist

An apology is a good way to have the last word.  ~Author Unknown

An apology is the superglue of life.  It can repair just about anything.  ~Lynn Johnston

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us.  That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.  ~Emily Kimbrough

More quotations about forgiveness.

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