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|
|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.