by Rabbi David J. Cooper & Rabbi Burt Jacobson
During the last years, especially during the Netanyahu administration, big steps have been taken that are increasingly making an independent Palestinian state less and less possible. That failure can mean many more years of suffering and an absence of justice for Palestinians. And without justice, there will be no real peace for Israelis.
We need to grieve and lament our thwarted dreams for a resolution that would encompass human and civil rights for all the people between the sea and the river Jordan.
We still have our hopes for an eventual resolution, but we also have feelings of despair. And if we do not admit to these feelings and if we do not voice them, they could swallow up our hopes and prevent us from any action.
There actually is a Jewish holiday for going into one’s grief and lamentation over the brokenness of the world. It is Tisha B-Av, a holiday without a name; it means simply “the ninth day of the month of Av.” We, Rabbis Burt and David, along with the Middle East Peace Committee, want a Tisha B-Av commemoration at Kehilla this year to enable us to express our despair, but also our hopes, and perhaps to enable each of us to consider ways to contribute to the efforts of bringing healing, justice and peace to the peoples there. And Tisha B-Av is the perfect spiritual vehicle for helping us move from despair to hope to action.
According to the tradition, both the ancient first and second Jerusalem temples were destroyed on Tisha B-Av. Other calamities fell on that day such as the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. We could consider of the 9th of Av in regard to the 9th of August, the day Nagasaki fell to nuclear attack.
Tisha B-Av is a sort of upside-down Chanukah. During the winter holiday we celebrate our hopes and during the summer holiday we admit our despairs. One holiday is about the dedication of the sanctuary; the other is about the destruction of the sanctuary.
So we will be joining with Beyt Tikkun and others this Erev Tisha B-Av on Saturday night, August 13 at 6:30pm to chant from the Book of Lamentations and gather in small circles for facilitated honest expressions of the spectrum of feelings we are experiencing as individuals. It is not expected that we all feel the same way, however, it is not an evening to argue positions. Rather it is to create a safe space in which to give voice to what we are feeling and to listen to others who may or may not feel the same as you do.
And we will also create time for our expressions of hope, and what our visions are for justice, peace and resolution.
We will pray, sing, make music, chant, meditate, talk and listen. Come join us!
At Kehilla Community Synagogue.