6 Av 5777 – Devarim

Farewell to our Shlichot:

This Shabbat we will be saying ‘Lehitraot’ to our two wonderful Shlichot, Yael and Netta. They have both given us nearly a year of their lives, to strengthen our community – especially our youth – in their commitment towards Judaism and Israel. They have built and grown many programs within our shule and have become an integral part of our team and community. Please join us over Shabbat in gratitude as we wish them farewell and hear their parting words to our community. 

Tisha B’av:

On Monday evening we will be ushering in Tisha B’av (the ninth day of Av) which is the saddest day in our Jewish calendar. It was on this day that:

  • During the time of Moses, the Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 10 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)
  • The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)
  • The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)
  • The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar – the Jews’ last stand against the Romans – was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE)
  • The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city – renamed Aelia Capitolina – and access was forbidden to Jews.

Other grave misfortunes that occurred all on this day…

–  The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B’Av in 1492.

–  World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B’Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.

–    On the eve of Tisha B’Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.

Our response to this tragedy?

 Yet, what has been our response to tragedy? How have we maintained our link to Jerusalem and our homeland over some two thousand years of exile? 

Ever since the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem, we never forgot her. We never stopped hoping that one day we would return. So we made her the focus of our prayers and the direction of our Synagogues. We even dedicated an entire day to remembering the beauty and blessing of the Jerusalem of old and praying for our speedy return. For millennia, it was this mourning of Tisha B’av that lay at the heart of our hopes and dreams. It fuelled our quests to one day return to walk her streets and live within her walls. While today we are so fortunate to have Jerusalem back within our hands, tensions are once again rising with the most recent attacks on our holy Mount. So on this day, during times when tensions are once again mounting in our holy city, let’s use this day to renew our commitment towards our people and our land and pray for better times of peace and security.

We will be holding a special service in Shule at 6.30pm with a special guest speaker and Holocaust survivor Jack Meister. His talk will be followed by a screening of the widely acclaimed film – “The Uprising”. Please join us for what will be a very meaningful evening.

Wishing all of us a Shabbat Shalom and only times of festivity and rejoicing for our community and for all of Israel.

Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman

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