This piece of Tisha B’Av #TorahForTheResistance is part of a campaign by young rabbinical and religious students about Jewish resistance to Trump through the lens of faith, Judaism, and spirituality. Read the full series here.
Prepared by the whole #TorahForTheResistance team:
Tisha b’Av marks the date of the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem. Historically, it also overlaps with numerous moments of persecution over the centuries, like the Edict of Expulsion from England in 1290 as well the last day that Jews were legally permitted in Spain in 1492. Tisha b’Av requires us to consider these moments experienced by our ancestors and to be present with their legacy.
To show up for movements for change today with integrity, we need to be honest about what is at stake for us as Jews. While most of the public discussion around anti-Jewish oppression focuses on Israel, we also need to be able to articulate what it looks like here in the U.S., beyond the Israel conversation. While the Right errs on the side of overstating its presence, the Left errs on the side of understating it. Neither of these approaches serves us. We need a clearer vision that we can integrate into work for justice. What we need is for Jews to be thinking critically and reflectively about what our suffering looks like and what it means today. This does not mean that we are entitled to the most resources or protections. This does not mean that we will only look at our own suffering. What it does mean is that we need to increase our capacity for honesty, courage, and vulnerability. What are the stories that we need to tell to make contemporary Jewish suffering fully legible to ourselves and others? How do we acknowledge the persecution of our collective past and its legacy without conflating it with our contemporary experiences as a radically diverse, Jewish people?
I do not draw on this history of tragedies to conflate the past with the present. God forbid there is a tragedy for the Jewish people today that would be as horrific as those marked on any of the fast days. I draw on these painful moments in Jewish history because we need to be honest about what Jewish suffering is today, and what it is not. In addition to the the stories of the past, we need to tell the anti-Jewish stories of the present, like a recent community petition to take down an eruv in New Jersey that included statements about Jews like, “They are known for taking a lovely community and turning it into a run down, dirty, unwanted place to live,” and “They do not clean up when they leave our parks even their children do not play nicely pushing our kids down on the playground.” We need to tell the increasing number of stories of hate crimes against Jews and the various ways our government and institutions perpetuate Christian hegemony.
The liturgy continues, “v’chulam osim b’eymah uv’yirah/and all of them act in fear and dread.” This work is scary. As we look honestly at our oppression and speak it into the world, we may experience fear and dread. Like the angels, I believe we can do it with love, clarity, and courage, despite our fears.
This is the charge of Tisha b’Av. To walk weeping through the remnants of the Temple and to mourn the past so we can stand clearly in the present. In doing this, we can show up for others with integrity because we will have been honest about what is at stake for us. As we solemnly chant from Eicha 3:29 this day, may we come to know that, “Maybe, there is hope.”