Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eicha Over Jerusalem


These past Nine Days have been very hard. Many others have written of the agony of recent infighting among the Jewish people. It lacerates the soul. We are such a small people and yet, we cannot seem to inhabit the same tiny country peaceably.

I have been carrying the burden of this time in a very personal way. So I've been looking forward to Tisha B'Av in the same way that a woman, heavily pregnant in mid-August, looks forward to labor. Not that labor will be fun, but when it's over, there will be relief.

The very first time I listened to Eicha (the biblical Book of Lamentations) being read on Tisha B'Av, it was outdoors, in a private backyard in Baltimore. Our first year in Israel, I listened to Eicha being read from behind a mechitza. My soul refuses to do that anymore.

So for the last few years, we've been going to a very different outdoor reading of Eicha, on the area known as E1. Visible from my back porch, E1 is a hotly contested, barren piece of land that belongs to the municipality of Ma'ale Adumim but which has not been developed, for distasteful political reasons. I found it poignant to listen to the lament over the destruction of Jerusalem while sitting on a piece of land, situated within a few kilometers of Har HaBayit, that, despite Israel's desperate need for housing, remains undeveloped.

E1 as seen from our back porch
This year, there was no organized reading of Eicha on E1, so we chose another alternative. The reading we attended was held at Mitzpe Edna, a tiny, park-like plaza at the corner of two streets in Ma'ale Adumim. Extremely unpretentious, like much of Israel, Mitzpe Edna has the distinction of facing out over Jerusalem.

Photo Credit: Danny Gewirtz




And there we gathered, perhaps 100 individual Jews. Men, women and children. Not a lot of ceremony. Just the evening prayer service and a communal reading of Eicha, outdoors, overlooking the hills toward the location of the Third Beit HaMikdash, the Third Holy Temple.






Is it enough consolation? That I can't say. But it does cinch the soul, the privilege of sitting so close to Jerusalem, listening to Jeremiah's ancient words, reminding us of Hashem's punishment.


And from there, walking home.




3 comments:

Dov Bar-Leib said...

just one note of consolation:

On the 15th of Kislev 5773, the UN had a vote to establish Palestine (and to divide Yerushalayim) as a UN observer nation. The vote was 138 to 9. Jewish End of Days made two points. That there is a discussion in the Talmud about the names for Mashiach. Two of those names are Tzemach and Menachem. The Gematriah of both names is 138. And the 9 nations that voted against do not even make a quorum for ten righteous nations. The vote was more than symbolic. It may have kicked off the famous nine months at the End of Days. According to another discussion amongst Chazal HaRaYON (pregnancy) is exactly 266 days. As a matter of fact, Reish, Yud, Vav, Nun has the Gematriah of 266 which is exactly nine Hebrew months or 38 weeks of pregnancy. Because Kislev had only 29 days this year, the 266th day is this coming 16th of Elul. This is also significant because the beginning of the 7th and final Churban, the Shoah, began on the 17th of Elul 5699. We need to hold on just a bit longer.

Courtney said...

This is poignant and inspiring.

Priscilla said...

This is gorgeous!