Tisha B'Av

I've just returned to Seattle from a wonderful and very intense summer, most of which I spent learning and teaching in Jerusalem. In the middle of my time in Israel, I had an opportunity to spend four days traveling around the West Bank, together with a group of other American Jewish leaders through the Encounter program.

I've just returned to Seattle from a wonderful and very intense summer, most of which I spent learning and teaching in Jerusalem. In the middle of my time in Israel, I had an opportunity to spend four days traveling around the West Bank, together with a group of other American Jewish leaders through the Encounter program.  Meeting with Palestinians and hearing their personal stories was moving and at times distressing; returning to Israeli society after my time on the other side of the wall and experiencing the (growing) gulf between Israeli and Palestinian public opinion was even more challenging.  There were uplifting and hopeful moments, to be sure, but I'm still struggling to wrap my head around the despair I experienced this summer.

Fortunately, the Jewish calendar provides us with an outlet for despair -- and for the deepest levels of mourning, sadness, grief, and anguish that we can muster.  This single day on the Jewish calendar, Tisha B'Av, commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (twice) and numerous other calamities that have happened throughout Jewish history. From Saturday evening throughSunday evening of this weekend, Jews around the world will observe a day of fasting and mourning, in solidarity with one another and with our ancestors from across the generations who have experienced tragedy.

It's important that as a community, we can come together not only at times of joy, but also in times of sadness.  Sharing our collective heartbreak on Tisha B'Av enables us to find comfort in one another.  

With prayers for a future in which (in the words of Psalm 126) those who have sown in tears will indeed reap in joy,

Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum