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Why Tisha B'Av? Because none of our holidays are irrelevant.

Why Tisha B'Av? For most of my life I have heard many liberal Jews, rabbis included, downplay the relevance of Tisha B'Av. Why?

  1. It commemorates the destruction of the Temples, 1 and 2, which were destroyed thousands of years ago. Literally.

  2. We no longer pray in grand Temples with priests and animal sacrifices.

  3. We do not want to rebuild the Temple. We are good. We do not want to bring back priests or sacrificing animals or really any of the Temple-based worship described in our ancient texts. We are not looking to move backwards.

  4. Also it is a fasting holidays and for some reason (I love it) people are not drawn to fasting as a spiritual practice. Some think it is punishing. I find it to be spiritually elevating.

I could write on and on as to why liberal Jews do NOT observe this holiday. But why? We are here to practice Judaism not find more reasons to shun it. Tisha B'Av has been too long marginalized as one of the holidays liberal Jews do not observe. But this is not healthy for us as a people, a tribe. We are missing an important piece of what it means to be Jewish without Tisha B'Av. We are missing out on a vital spiritual season in our Jewish lives. How?

  1. Spiritual practice and practicing Judaism must not be limited to the happy celebrations. We need to learn to ritualizing and bring to community our sorrows, not just our joys. Yes-synagogue is a place to come to cry. It is also a place to bring your sorrows. Tisha B'Av is a sad holy day. It is a holy day of brokenness. A holy day where we explore what it means for life to take you DOWN and then we learn about how Judaism can lift us back up!

  2. Fasting. If you can. Not everyone can do a full 24 hours. But everyone can fast in some little way. Maybe no coffee? No ice cream? It is ok to fast, to withhold. It is ok to create sacred space in your life by breaking your consumption routine, if only for a day. This practice directs our minds and bodies towards spiritual focus. It creates space in our systems for something new, growth.

  3. Siting on the ground, reading lamentations, talking about sad stuff. Public mourning. It is healthy and important. To recognize the pain and suffering in our world and in our community. Tisha B'Av is a space to bring your sadness.

  4. Rising up. This is our truth. We rose up. From the ashes. Agian and again. The 1st Temple was destroyed in 586 bce? We rose up and rebuilt. Destroyed agian in 72 ce? We rebuilt our entire society and became a diaspora people, tribe. Spanish Inquisition? We survived. Pogroms? Survived. Shoah? We are still here.

We are still here. We commemorate our suffering and destruction and then we acknowledge: we rose up and survived. This is our story but also a universal truth. Dark powers will seek to destroy those who fight for a just society and harm those who honor this planet and life...but we cannot be destroyed. Kindness and Justice will win. Tisha B'Av reminds us and empowers us to keep going.

This Thursday at 7:30pm we are gathering for an evening of Tisha B'Av exploration. This is a hybrid event so you can also join us from home.

Please bring something broken from home, if you are joining in person, to help create a community project. Wholeness from brokenness! Please register here:

A Tisha b’Av Prayer

Cantor Sarah Beth Berman

Grief, loss, devastation, distress,

Shock, numbness, denial, apathy,

Disorganization, confusion, searching, yearning,

Anxiety, panic, fear, resentment, jealousy,

Anger, hate, blame, terror, rage,

Sadness, depression, guilt, regret, isolation.

All these feelings and more, we will experience in our lives.

We often find ways to distract ourselves from the full depth of our emotions.

Today we open the floodgates and sit with those feelings we would rather avoid.

We can make space enough inside us to hold all these different emotions.

Today we take the time to get to know how we react to these feelings, how we redirect them onto others.

When we open up to grief and sit in darkness, we learn to be better human beings, and light the way for others.

Help us open not just to private grief, but to communal grief for our people and the suffering in the world.

May we learn this Tisha b’Av that finding rock bottom can become a foundation for strength and growth.  Amen.



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