Tisha B'Av does mourn the loss of the Temple (both temples). However, tradition (from Tanach to mishnah to contemporary times) holds that many other terrible calamities have occurred on this date...
Furthermore, Tisha B'Av brings to a close the Three Weeks of mourning, and we emerge on Shabbat Nachamu, August 5, with the first of the seven haftorot of consolation. The intricate emotional development begins with the three haftarot of punishment (this begins next Shabbat as July 12 begins the Three Weeks), then seven of consolation which bring us up just before Rosh HaShanah, and then the two haftarot of tshuvah, repentance. It is a magnificent flow.
The reading of Eicha (Lamentations) on Tisha B'Av is an important connection to fellow Jews, admittedly a horrifying narrative of loss and pain, but part of our history. If there is one thing pretty much all Jews seem to agree on, it is the importance of recognizing that some history must be remembered so it is not repeated.
For these many reasons I would think this day is quite appropriate for Reform Jews as much as any others.
Jul 2006 Digest 116
If you have kids at a URJ camp it is likely that they will be exploring Tisha B'Av in some way. Yet we do little, if anything at home, which creates a real disconnect for our returning kids and their parents.
Last summer I had the amazing opportunity to chair a pluralistic Jewish conference that fell during Tisha B'Av. This gave the Planning Committee members the opportunity to learn so that we could then plan appropriately. The sessions we offered that day included the more traditional studies of the book of Lamentations and Job. They also included studies on the theme of healing and survival against the odds, including experiential learning at a salmon fish ladder (we were in Seattle) and art experiences.
I learned much and realized there is so much to explore that is relevant to our contemporary lives. And, if we offer some programming and learning we will help "connect the silos" between our camps and home communities.
Jul 2006 Digest 116 In the past our former rabbi held services on Tisha B'Av. The participants read aloud from a document that the rabbi had created with readings concerning many past atrocities suffered by Jewish communities including but not limited to the Inquisition and the Holocaust. While we were reading the rabbi chanted the Book of Lamentations. I learned a lot of Jewish history from these experiences, and I felt far more sensitized to the brutality that is inescapably a part of our history. This type of service was a way to re-define the holiday in a way that was very meaningful for me as a 21st century Reform Jew. Suzanne 150 families
Jul 2006 Digest 116 I don't mourn for the temples nor do I eagerly await a third one, but this doesn't mean marking Tisha B'Av is inappropriate. I think the destruction of the second temple was a necessary transition for Judaism to develop, just as going into slavery in Egypt was necessary for us to ultimately receive Torah. We can mark that transition even if our feelings about the temple are different from other Jews. (On a personal level, I will attend services but not fast.) Monica 860 households
July 2007 Digest 128
I have struggled with this holiday for many years as to whether to observe it or not. Is it one of those traditions to be catalogued in our Jewish archives but no longer observed?? Or, should it be adapted to modern times?? I personally feel that to remember a significant event in our religious history is important, but it is the next step that is problematic, and that is, praying for the return of the Temple. That is something I am not in favor of.
But I do like the idea of adapting it, forming new liturgy and using it as a marking point on our path to the HHD? And if one takes the HHD with the intent of spiritual renewal, it can be a meaningful service to have.
Also, after Tisha B'Av we begin the weekly Shabbat Haftorah readings of the prophet Isaiah which are a precursor to the tone and solemnity of HHD, so in a way this holiday Tisha B'Av is embedded in our tradition whether we officially observe it or not.
I would like to have some type of service that adapts it to our modern life, with some study as well.
July 2007 Digest 128
I am sorry to say that it is summer doldrums that causes my congregation to not observe Tisha B'av. I will be using Eicha trope for the haftarah, but we'll see if anyone notices......I'd like to put something together, and if we did, I would like us to focus on all the other terrible events we recall in our sorrowful history as well. I am thinking...maybe if we had a renewed interest in a focused day of historical mourning, a community yahrzeit, not necessarily about the temple alone, we would add to the joyfulness of our other celebrations.
we have such high attendance on YK , it makes me consider again the compartmentalization of modernity. If people spend all year doing what "makes sense" or "feels good" and trying to become inured to suffering, then what draws them to YK are the culturally unacceptable practices of guilt, mourning, fear and trembling, all of which are vital in having any kind of inner life.
We could give our congregations a gift of focus on the sufferings of the Jewish people, as opposed to their own personal sufferings and failings. We could help them turn toward the community in a more profound way that might actually be welcome. Then, when we focus on joy and celebration, we can emphasize that we do both, in their season.
July 2007 Digest 128
This Tishah B' Av is the first time in my fourteen-year membership that [our congregation] is not having a service (or as in the last two years, a study session). I believe that the official reason for this is attributed to the notion of a certain level of discomfort/ ambivalence in mourning for that which in fact, we would not necessarily want ("The Temple") to have in our present reality.
Interestingly, our rabbi emeritus avoided attendance at this service (and I believe that was the reason) until two years ago when we turned it into a study, which he has attended. However, I believe that the underlying reason we are not "doing" Tishah B' Av this year, falls more into the category of poor attendance, too many people out of town, and a kind of ennui about the subject.
I agree that an observance of the day is another chance to get into the High Holiday consciousness, that it provides an opportunity to look at Isaiah and to reflect on our history... we can not begin to imagine or understand where we are going without knowing and understanding where we have been. Beyond that there is a deep concern on my part (as a Ritual Committee
person) when we start dropping rituals, events, observances, etc. from our tradition because of apathy, or inability to find relevance, or summer doldrums.
It seems like a very slippery slope. I am not talking about any person's individual choices about their level of observance, but rather the institutional "face." Should the synagogue continue the traditions whether they will be attended or not, whether the tradition is "relevant" to the modern day?
Do I want to see another Temple built, a return to the ways of pre Rabbinic Judaism? No, but I believe that it has been important to us to remember a time when that was Judaism, and a great catastrophe happened and yet Judaism survived. I am concerned that the quiet erosion of tradition is not healthy for us, and I am particularly concerned when that erosion comes from the synagogue. Catastrophe is not always immediate and dramatic.