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Monday, July 23, 2007

Erev Tisha B'Av in Jerusalem

Wow. I knew a little bit about this night, but not nearly enough to prepare myself for the emotions I would encounter during our service this evening. Tisha B'Av commemorates the 9th of Av in the Hebrew Calendar. Traditionally, this is the date in which the 1st and 2nd temples were destroyed as well as other horrible events like the slaughtering of Bar Kochba and his students. This is a very solemn night, but it brought some happiness and satisfaction as well. For after all, we are here, and we are continuing to be here. While no Israeli or Jewish person for that matter agrees on all political and cultural decisions, we can all celebrate our existence in the land promised to us, Eretz Yisrael.

A commitee was formed to write and lead a service for our HUC community, overlooking the walls of the Old City. It was truly an amazing sight to see hundreds and thousands of Jewish people flooding into the Old City, to get a glimpse or touch of what remains of the outer wall of the area surrounding the Temple. The beginning of the service felt just like the first time I touched the stones of the Kotel, the Western Wall. I felt nothing. But, as the service moved on, I began to feel sadness, lamenting all of the horror that has befallen our ancestors.

And, then, at once, I experienced some sort of satisfaction. I was here, sitting on the ground in Jerusalem watching the walls of the Old City. I wasn't scared or even remotely worried. I was able to sit there and pray how I wanted. This is truly an amazing feeling, that I am beginning to feel more and more everyday. We are here, in Eretz Yisrael, in Yerushalayim, praying. I thank God everyday for this opportunity.

I am looking forward to a meaningful fast and day of thought and spiritual escape from my everyday reality. We only have one period of Hebrew tomorrow, followed by Text study and an afternoon service, Mincha. I'll write tomorrow with impressions of my first ever Tisha B'Av in Jerusalem.

Baruch Hashem!

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