Today is August 4th. Tisha B’Av starts tonight. It is a hard day nationally for us as a people – and for me personally.
August 4th, 1941 was the day my father’s family was wiped out by the Einsatzgruppen in Tomashpol, Ukraine. My father, a six-year old boy, watched from atop a mulberry tree as 400 Jews were machine-gunned down by the Nazis at the edge of their town and thrown into a ravine. My grandmother forbade my father to march to his death and saved his life.
Today, Jews are again running away from Ukraine and France and other places, where being openly Jewish is no longer safe. Again. Today, we are fighting terrorist forces in Gaza who are totally committed to our annihilation.
Tisha B’Av marks the day of Jewish tragedies. Somehow, the world does not seem to want these tragedies to stop. Just when it seems we are in a new era of modernity and peace, the hatred emerges again and again. We, a miniscule and scattered people with a sliver of land we won after the greatest genocide perpetrated against humanity, are again being blamed for the ills of the Middle East, Europe and Lord knows what else.
And the irony is that so many of us are ready to take the blame. We accuse our own people of being guilty of inhumanity. Really? We blame ourselves for war crimes because Israeli soldiers are trying to destroy weapons hidden under schools, mosques, hospitals, and behind children being used as human shields. Why are we judged so much harsher than any other nation at war in history?
I am filled with sorrow and anger on this day. I know we are no longer defenseless. I know we have a state and we have real friends and allies. I know “never again” is not an empty slogan. As a people, we have never been this strong, secure and prosperous since the time of King Solomon. I need to remind myself of this now. But I am still full of pain, and deeply bewildered by the predicaments we keep finding ourselves in. We have to keep struggling, I suppose, as our name says: Yisrael – “He who struggles with God”. And with God’s creations.
Tonight and tomorrow are dedicated to feeling the sadness and for remembering all that has befallen us over the centuries and all that has befallen us so recently...
I don’t wish anyone an easy fast. I wish you a meaningful fast.