Join Rabbi Birnholz & Cantor Rubinstein in this time of great heaviness for
Tisha b’Av Saturday July 25th at 8 pm
This Ninth Day of Av marks the greatest tragedies of Jewish history. This year the observance of this day of fasting, lamentation, reflection and prayer comes at a time when our hearts and minds are turn toward Israel. It is facing the type of violence and hatred it did on the Ninth of Av in this season in years gone by. We gather to do what we can: to pray, to remember, to talk, to dream, to weep and to hope. Maybe as a community of Israel, together in our House of Peace (Beth Shalom) we can make some measure of difference in our world
Though summer is often a time of ease and enjoyment, sun and warmth, it is the darkest and most somber time of the Jewish year, because we commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples in 586 B.C.E. by the Babylonians and in 70 C.E. by the Romans. We engage in a period of national mourning, lamenting the loss of our political and religious autonomy, the collapse of our religious and spiritual center, and the end of Jewish worship as it had been known. Our grieving begins on the 17th day of the Hebrew month Tammuz, the date given to both the incident of the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai and the breaching of the outer walls of the Second Temple by the Romans. This is called a minor fast day- from sunrise to sunset, when some Jews refrain from eating and drinking.
These following three weeks are given the name, bein ha-metzarim, “between the straights” or “in the narrow places,” during which certain mourning customs are observed. No weddings, b’nai mitzvah services, synagogue dedications or other celebrations are held. Some do not cut their hair, shave, or play music. The mourning intensifies as the next Hebrew month, Av, begins, with some people not consuming meat or wine unless on Shabbat, and abstaining from joyous activities, such as going to the movies, buying or wearing new clothes, swimming, etc.
These intense practices build up to Tisha b’Av (the 9th of Av), a day of ultimate catastrophe. Jewish tradition states that the negative report of the twelve scouts sent by Moses to the Promised Land was delivered on this day, causing the People of Israel to lose faith in God, who in turn condemned them to wander the desert for forty years. On Tisha B’Av, the Beit Ha-Mikdash, the Temple in Jerusalem, was utterly demolished, the Bar-Kochba rebellion against the Romans failed (135 C.E.), the Jews were expelled from England (1290) and from Spain (1492). To commemorate all the calamities that befell the Jewish people, we fast for a full 25 hours and refrain from all work, as we do on Yom Kippur. We are mourners on Tisha B’Av, remembering and then bemoaning what could have been.
But not all hope is lost, for what happens after the 9th of Av? From the darkest depths, we begin to ascend, inspired by the hope of renewal and return, promised during the High Holy Days, as it is written in Isaiah 51:3: “truly the Lord has comforted Zion, comforted all her ruins; He has made her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the Garden of the Lord. Gladness and joy shall abide there, thanksgiving and the sound of music.”
Cantor Dannah Rubinstein