Observing Tishah B’Av in the Time of Quarantine
Tishah B’Av, observed on the ninth of Av, is considered to be the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. The holiday traditionally commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Now, Reform Judaism observes the date in memory of tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. We read the Book of Lamentations and we mourn the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust. And we use this day of communal mourning to reflect on how we might contribute to tikkun olam, the opportunity to fulfill Judaism’s mission of being “a light unto the nations.”
How do we even start to observe this unique day of mourning when we have been in a period of mourning for months now? A pandemic that has affected each one of us, our routines, our lives that have been upended. We mourn the freewheeling existence we didn’t even fully realize we enjoyed. Our feelings have run the gamut of emotions from fear and anger to frustration, exhaustion, and infinite stress.
Whatever we have felt, our Congregation, our own kehillah kedoshah, has been there for us. It has thrived as a supportive and very active virtual congregation. Allowing us to be present together throughout this unprecedented time—learning, praying, and even rejoicing together. Although not used to being isolated from each other, our connection, our lifeline, has been our strength—you might even say it is our secret super power!
A time for reflection for sure. With such unpredictability in our lives, is it even okay to ask, what does tomorrow bring? Our Jewish calendar has always been our steady compass. Whatever we’re going through, it holds an answer. Therefore, Tishah B’Av is right on time. It arrives to help us decipher what is important, what is real, how to keep going. It teaches us to mourn for what has been lost yet offers the imperative that we continue to go on – to strive, to heal, to find the light. Our kehillah kedoshah will go on, we will endure.
Watch the BimBam video: What Is Tishah B’Av?
URJ Blog post: The Thread that Connects the Tree of Life Synagogue, Kristallnacht, and Tishah B’Av
by Rabbi Seth L. Bernstein
My Jewish Learning: Tishah B’Av 101
More from My Jewish Learning: More About Tishah B’Av
American Jewish World Service Blog post: On Tishah B’Av, Connection Conquers Hate
by Rabbi Justin Goldstein