Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The older I get the more there is to mourn on Tisha B'Av

Coming from the diaspora I had always regarded the destruction of the temples and the resulting exile as enough reason to be mournful on this day. It's true that in the first years after my aliya to Israel Tisha B'Av brought many radio and newspaper discussions as to whether now that we have returned to Jerusalem we really need to continue mourning.

How naïve! But those were heady days when more than a few Israelis, both 'religious' and not yet 'religious', thought we had solved all our problems.

How could we imagine that our soldiers would be busy throwing Jews out of their homes on Tisha B'Av in 5765 (2005)?

Last year on Tisha B'Av I found myself standing at the funeral of Mark Levin a young immigrant soldier from Philadelphia. I didn't know him personally but the story was familiar. A child grows up in a warm Jewish community dedicated to instilling its children with a strong Jewish identity. He has a bar-mitzva, goes to Camp Rama, learns Hebrew and finds himself midway through high school taking religion and Zionism more and more seriously. He takes it so seriously that he forgoes college for a study program in Israel after which he joins the army.

This year my community here in Rehovot screened a film called "A Hero in Heaven". The film was made by an American and traced the man's life and development of his commitment to Judaism and Zionism. It is a story told by the people who knew him, parents, sisters, congregational Rabbi, teachers and army friends and commanders. Our community is made up mostly of recent and not so recent immigrants mostly from English speaking countries with a smattering of native Israelis. The movie was forty minutes long and I cried from beginning to end. Every one of us did.

May we all see God's redeeming mercy on his people rebuild the temple in our days. Amen

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