Jerusalem has been a bustling, even joyous city for the better part of a century, the destination of choice for visitors to Israel, most certainly for American Jews and thousands of our students. The Kotel is never lonely, and the real estate is so in demand that it has attracted foreign speculators and local resentment, understandably, by the have-nots.
One thing Jerusalem is not is that city described on Tisha b’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar year (and observed Saturday night and Sunday), as a city that sits desolate and solitary.
As Colorado and the nation tried to absorb the tragic massacre in a suburban Denver movie theater, local synagogues conducted special prayers and the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado launched a response fund for the victims and their families.
Perhaps spurred by the trial over Michael Jackson’s death, there has been increasing concern over what is being called a painkiller epidemic. A Los Angeles Times found that deaths from prescription pain medication far surpass those from heroin and cocaine combined. An estimated 50 million Americans live with chronic physical pain, and countless more are facing emotional distress. Many of them are people are doing all they can to deaden their torment, and their doctors are obliging.
Tisha B'Av, the 25-hour fast day beginning Monday night, is not the most popular holiday on the Jewish calendar. Many Jews let this summer day of commemoration of the destruction of the two temples in Jerusalem (as well as other calamities that befell the Jewish people) go by without much attention. However, for the Jewish people who spend part of the night and day in solemn prayer, listening to the dirgeful recitation of Eichah (Lamentations), there is now an impressive Android app to help them follow along with the text.
The destruction that took place on the 9th of Av happened 2,000 years ago.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
Special To The Jewish Week
Memorable events happen to everyone – and not just to individuals, but to groups, families, tribes. In most cases, the memory diminishes with time. When one is very close to an event, every detail is engraved on the mind, and of course, memories trigger an accompanying emotional response. But with time, the impact of such memories becomes less. We tend to forget almost everything; the sharpness and the colors of things past become tarnished. And even when they are written down or memorialized another way, events become smaller with time.
In “The Arabian Nights,” Scheherazade keeps herself alive by weaving a narrative spell: her story is so thrilling that the Sultan keeps her around to hear the next night’s continuation.
Staying alive through stories: this is part of the secret of the Jewish people. We tell our tales, day by day, night after night. On Tisha b’Av we recount the story of destruction and loss. On Passover, of liberation and triumph. On Rosh HaShanah, of creation, on Shabbat of rest. Scholars, sages, fiddlers, fools — each magic link in the chain pulls us to the next.
The state's Board of Law Examiners is assessing what accommodation, if any, will be made for observant Jews who may be forced to take next yearís bar exam on Tisha b'Av. The board has set up an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, to determine how many people will be affected if the exam is held on the day of mourning, which is a fast day. Those requesting an accommodation should notify the board in writing by Oct. 10.
On the eve of Tisha b’Av 15 years ago, I wrote one of my first columns in my new post here about the rabbinic teaching that the Holy Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE and again in 70 AD on Tisha b’Av (the ninth of Av) because of sinat chinam, or causeless hatred, among the Jewish people.
I tried to make the point that the problem still plagues us, and noted that Jews of all stripes, from Orthodox to Reform to secular, can and should find things to admire about each other.
The contrast between the American spectacle of celebrity death worship and the Jewish tradition of mourning has rarely been as sharply defined as it is this week.
I write these words 12 days after Michael Jackson died, his funeral arrangements and burial site still undecided. The star’s death has become as big a phenomenon as his troubled life. His family members hold press conferences, appear at music awards ceremonies and allow tickets to be distributed through a lottery for a huge, public memorial ceremony.