#TBT: Tisha B'Av at Grand Army Plaza asks Israel-Gaza "If Not Now?"
This week’s Throwback Thursday looks backward and forward. Last year, Tisha B’Av fell during Israel’s assault on Gaza, a truly terrible time, like so many other truly terrible times. A burgeoning collection of progressive, New York Jews appalled by the carnage spread word of a Tisha B’Av service in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, connecting the desperation, violence, and displacement of the book of Eikha (Lamentations) with the plight of the residents of Gaza. Under the banner If Not Now, they drew several hundred Jews, many of them in Jewish leadership positions to the service and to further anti-war activism. Today’s #TBT is to Jewschool Senior Editor Ben Murane’s coverage of the event, with Gili Getz’s photos, and goads us to turn our eye back to Gaza, where last year’s war is very much a present, burning reality today.
And if we’re trying to figure out what to do once we bring our gaze back to Gaza, we can heed the suggestion of one Jewschooler who must remain anonymous because of professional limitations, who was reading Chapter 5 of Eikha and experiencing nauseous flashbacks to Gaza: “We have become orphans, with no father; our mothers are like widows. Our own water we can drink only with silver, our kindling wood comes with a price. We are pursued at our necks; we are exhausted, but not left be…With our life’s peril do we bring bread, because of the desert sword. Our skin glows like an oven because of the fever of famine…” This contributor’s reaction is “I felt like for each verse I had to stop and make a donation to Kinder USA — supporting Palestinian kids in Gaza. $22 a person – a dollar per verse per chapter (or $66 for Chap 3?)”.
We’ll end this post with the plea from the end of Eikha: “Make us return, YHWH, to You, so that we do return; start our days anew, as in the beginning.”