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Mourning in Jerusalem

Today is the Ninth of Av-Tisha B’Av.  Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee in a Classical Reform congregation this was never really observed. Even at our URJ Summer Camp it was only in later years that Tisha B’Av was observed through an evening program–a great teachable moment to young campers. 

Tisha B’Av marks the destruction of the Temples–first by the Babylonian’s in 586 BCE  and then the second Temple by the Romans in the year, 70 CE.   The book of Lamentations describes the destruction of the first temple and the seige of Jerusalem. The terror and horror of those days are reflected there.

But sitting as I am now in Jerusalem, the city that was destroyed in each of these horrific moments brings the observance of this fast day to different meaning.  The Temple mount and the Western Wall are stark reminders of the destruction of the Temple.  You can more easily imagine the walls being breached and at the Wohl Archaeological Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem you see remains of ancient households that still bear ashes and scorching inflicted by the heat of the flames!  It takes the story of our peoples travail and puts it in reality rather than through story, prayer and lore.

The fact that we as a Jewish people still lament and mourn this moment in our history speaks to our communal memory.  And also how deeply we were torn by these painful moments in our ancient history.  Even as Judaism is a different religion from the ancient practices of sacrifice in the Temple, it is our people’s history. And though I do not pray to restore the temple and rebuild it, I observe Tisha B’Av in memory of those whose lives were lost and the destruction of our people’s central shrine. 

We weep for Jerusalem of those years. And we still pray for the Peace of Jerusalem in our time.