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
In weeks like this one, with the climate crisis and political crises in full view, I struggle with the question of agency. Do I have any power at all to effect change? If I cannot control the "big" things that are happening in real time all around me, do my actions matter? It's easy to become dispirited and believe that we don't have much power.
A few weeks ago, Noam and I decided to introduce our kids to the movie Fiddler on the Roof. They were excited to sing along to some already-familiar songs like "Matchmaker" and "Tradition," and thought the wedding scene was beautiful. However, I had forgotten just how dark the end of the movie is. As we watched the Jews being expelled from their village of Anatevka, trudging down the road together, and pausing at the crossroads before going their own separate ways, my 10-year-old asked whether something like that could ever happen to us here in America.
Close your eyes and imagine: a hot bowl of soup simmering on the stove, crisp latkes frying in a pan, or a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate. Can you almost smell it?! As the weather gets colder and the days darker, it's human nature to turn to "comfort foods" for warmth, satisfaction, nourishment and, well, comfort.