Last night, I sent a text to the camp director at 6 Points Creative Arts Academy (who I’ve known for over 30 years) where Marisa is a camper. The text read: So how does a creative arts camp celebrate Tisha B’av? #mosthatedcampholiday. She has yet to respond.
I know from experience that commemorating Tisha B’av at summer camp is a camp director’s nightmare. How do you create a program that makes the destruction of the ancient temple relevant for children? Some might say that it’s difficult to make commemorating the destruction of the temple relevant even for adults.
A few years ago, I was one of those people. Tisha B’av has not been my favorite holiday. Mourning a historical event that took place almost 2000 years ago can’t compete with a new year, or the sound of the shofar, or lighting Chanukah candles, or Purim plays, or even the work of teshuvah – repentance. It’s easy to think that Judaism is filled with joyful and meaningful holidays which far outshine what little Tisha B’av has to offer.
But recently, and especially this year, I have come to realize that the holiday of Tisha B’av has very relevant symbolic meaning. It is a holiday that represents the brokenness of a community – of an entire society, and it challenges us to move from that brokenness to healing and finally to rebuilding.
What a message for today! As a community, as an entire society, we are experiencing a time and culture of brokenness. After 18 months of isolation, illness, fear, anxiety, anger and controversy, we need a message of healing. We need to know that broken communities can rebuild and thrive. That one kind of destruction doesn’t lead to eternal destruction.
This is really the message of Tisha B’av: through the power of community and of a united purpose, we can build a better society. It is this message that we will share on Saturday night (7:30 pm on the back patio, weather permitting; otherwise in the sanctuary). Our beautiful, meditative and musical service will begin with a call to remember the brokenness in our history, for the emotions we are experiencing now are not new. And we will be asked to consider for ourselves how each one of us can move forward.
Please join Cantorial Soloist Lisa Marcus Jones and myself for a truly inspirational interpretation of Tisha B’av, a commemorative service that speaks not only of yesterday, but also of today and tomorrow.