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Tishah B'Av

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Many people wonder why Tishah B'Av continues to matter in modernity. This solemn day of fasting commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and exile from the land of Israel. Why continue to mourn these losses in an age when the Jewish people have regained our homeland and rebuilt Jerusalem? After traveling with American Jewish World Service to the Thai-Burmese border this past winter, however, I have rediscovered in Tisha B’Av an eternal call to remember oppression and to act to overcome it.

During my travels with AJWS I had the privilege of meeting with some of the...

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After weeks of missiles falling on Israel and bombs dropping on Gaza, we land on Tishah B’Av. With the day-to-day images of explosions and tunnels so fresh, I wondered how they might connect to my mid-summer night’s struggle with the somber holiday’s relevance.

Tishah B’Av, this year starting on the evening of Aug. 4, is a day on which we are supposed to mourn for the destruction of the First and Second Temples. I say “supposed to” because each year I become less certain - as I suspect is the case for many American Jews - as to why I mourn.

On Tishah B’Av we are forbidden...

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Yesterday began the three-week period leading up to Tishah B’Av (August 4-5 this year), the darkest, saddest day on the Jewish calendar. On Tishah B’Av, we fast and we mourn for the destruction of the ancient temples, as well as many other devastations throughout Jewish history.

The three weeks and the nine days right before Tishah B’Av have certain traditional guidelines and practices to prepare. As Jews, wherever we are in the world, we live our daily lives aware of possible threats. We may not need to be reminded of the current situation, but our faith and our tradition’s...

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Last night, for the first time ever, I attended a Tishah B’Av study session – a joint venture between my own Temple Shaaray Tefila and Or Olam - The East 55th Street Synagogue, a neighboring Conservative congregation. Bookended by the singing of Hashiveinu, the hour-long gathering included beautiful chantings from Lamentations in both Hebrew and English, as well as a reading of Flavius Josephus’ eyewitness account of Jerusalem following its destruction by the Romans. The evening was rounded out by small group discussions in which we attempted to unravel the Talmudic tale of Kamza and Bar...

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My son’s birthday is in July. Last year, we sent out invitations to his bunkmates for a typical kindergartener’s birthday bash - pizza and ice cream cake at a moon-bounce place. One of the responses I got was from a parent who wanted to make sure I knew that we had scheduled Elishai’s birthday on Tishah B’Av, the 9th of Av, a major fast day commemorating the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. While I think there was good intention in that email, there was an element of "Gotcha!" in it as well. What rabbi would schedule a kid’s birthday party on Tishah B’av?  I replied that we did, in...

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