Growing up, I spent most of my summers at Jewish sleep-away camps, and I loved it. When Tisha B’Av arrived each year (in July or August), I was always at camp and I remember our observances of it. We fasted if we were old enough, wore black, non-leather clothing, and said the appropriate prayers by candlelight.
Now, in the heat of the summer when many people are on vacation, we have this holiday. It is a day in which we mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Today Jerusalem is a thriving city, yet we must remember when that spiritual, cultural, and political center of our people was destroyed and we began our long journey of being exiles.
We observe this day by chanting “Lamentations” and may add references to modern day tragedies in Israel and around the world in an effort to heighten our awareness of injustices today.
It is also a time to pause and cherish Israel as our homeland and to pray that the state of exile never again touches the Jewish people. We can visit our eternal spiritual capital, Jerusalem. And we can speak and sing about remembering, about peace, and about hope.
This year, Rabbi Alex Greenbaum has asked me to lead erev Tisha B’Av services on Saturday evening, August 10th at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, since he will be away. We often “cover” for each other and I invite you to join me and others for this service, since we don’t traditionally observe this at BSJC. The service begins at 9pm, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
L’hitra’ot, until next time!