A Modern Tisha B’Av

Tisha B'Av PhotoToday is Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av, during which we commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. It is also said that on this date the Jews were expelled from England in 1290 CE, from Spain in 1492, and the Nazi’s began to liquidate the Warsaw Ghetto. There are many historical moments to recall on this tragic day and while many Reform Jews do not typically observe Tisha B’Av, we at TBS have created a ritual that allows us to remember and reflect.

Last night, Cantor Reinwald and Alan Shebroe led 20 individuals in a beautiful service of contemplation. Part of our ritual included reading Eicha, the book of Lamentations. The chant is haunting and the imagery of a destroyed and desolate Jerusalem is discomfiting. It was made even more powerful as we held our service in our own destroyed sanctuary at TBS. Just as it was moving to sit among the ruins in Jerusalem three years ago at Tisha B’Av, so too did last night move me and those who gathered together in an inexplicable way.

While we are ever grateful that the destruction of our sanctuary was not due to any act of another, to sit in the empty space brought forth great emotion. The space is empty and our voices echoed off the bare exposed wood. And while we feel loss there is also hope.

Just as the rabbis teach us that the weeks ahead become time of consolation and rebuilding, we too know that this is true for TBS. In one month we will have our groundbreaking and construction will begin to bring us back to our sanctuary. This will not happen quickly, it will be many months until we are fully back in our sanctuary, but we will be back. We are rebuilding.

The same is true for Jerusalem and Israel. These past weeks have been more than challenging for Israel at war in Gaza and in defense of herself to the rest of the world. But there is a sense of hope as all of the tunnels that would be used for terror have been destroyed. There is still the work to ensure Israel is secure and hopefully, this time of truce will hold so conversations can be shared. There is much consolation needed for all those who lost loved ones. And there is consolation and healing needed for all. This too will take time.

This year, Tisha B’Av has many dimensions for all of us to consider. From destruction to rebuilding we pray for hope and peace for all.