Tisha B’Av is our calendar’s date of mourning. On the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av we recall tragic events in Jewish history whose legacy have shaped our identity and values.
On Tisha B’Av, we mourn the loss of these special places, the spiritual home address for the entire Jewish people where they celebrated holidays and life cycle events, and came together to experience community and the presence of God.
The Temples were destroyed during times of division among the Jews. They had lost their solidarity as a people. Some scholars say the Temples were destroyed because of sinat hinam, or “baseless hatred,” among the Jews.
In some ways, the experiences of these past 6 months of the pandemic echo the challenges of this Jewish holiday. This year, the questions of Tisha B’Av are more relevant than ever.
What are the effects and the meaning of the physical building of Chizuk Amuno being closed? What does it do to us as a community not to be able to spend time in our synagogue with family and friends? How can Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations, weddings and births be as meaningful and fun when everyone has to observe them in their own homes? Can we overcome the difficulty of praying, studying, and organizing tikkun olam during this time? How can we overcome the divisions in our society, brought on by the pandemic, and achieve solidarity as a society? How can we reach toward our higher selves, unite, and remember in spirit and in action that we are made in the image of God?
The afternoon of Tisha B’Av resolves in comfort and hope. As the walls of the Temple were collapsing, a remarkable drama took place that would secure the future of Judaism for the next 2,000 years. A leading rabbi named, Yochanon ben Zakkai, believing defeat was at hand, had himself placed in a coffin and smuggled out of Jerusalem so he could continue teaching outside the occupied city. After he escaped, he set up schools in the port of Yavneh to ensure Judaism’s continuity. He built new gathering places for the people.
During this pandemic we have also seen individuals, organizations, and our own shul community respond with innovation and continuity. Using Zoom and other creative ideas, such as drive by birthdays, global learning, and curb side social action drop offs, we are following in the footsteps of Rabbi Yohanan and creating a new way to study, worship, celebrate and repair the world.
A special minhah service will be held at 1:30 p.m. At this afternoon service we will wear our Tallit and Tefillin, ritual symbols that we will not use during our Shaharit service in expression of our mourning. Tisha B’Av is a full or partial day of fasting and introspection observed with emotion as we transform trauma into wisdom through ritual.