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Four Reasons Why Tisha B’Av Is Relevant Today

Temple Burning Tisha B’av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is a fast day commemorating  the destruction of both the First and Second Temples located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of Jews from their country. This year it begins at sundown July 31 and ends at nightfall on August 1st. 

A number of other calamities also befell the Jewish people on that day including: the crushing of Bar Kochba’s revolt against Roman rule and the death of 580,00 Jews in Israel as a result of it; the official start of the First Crusade which killed 10,000 Jews in France and Germany during the first month alone; the expulsion of the Jews from England, France and Spain; the beginning of the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto; and Himmler’s receipt of approval from the Nazi party for the “Final Solution,” which resulted in the death of six million Jews.

While  these seasons are more than sufficient to warrant a day of fasting, many Jews  wonder if the fast is still relevant today since the main reasons for the fast – the destruction of the two Temples and the city of Jerusalem and the expulsion of its citizens- is not as relevant today.  Jerusalem has been rebuilt and united and Jews have returned to Jerusalem and to Israel. However, as we will see, Tisha B’Av is extremely relevant to us today.

  1. The Temple- Although the Temple has not been rebuilt, Israel is in possession of the site on which the first two Temples were erected- the Temple Mount. However, as evidenced by recent events, the Temple Mount is far from being”in our hands.” The unfortunate decision to leave the Waqf, an Islamic trust controlled by Jordan, in administrative charge of the Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, has resulted in the belief by Palestinians and most other Muslims that the Temple Mount belongs to them. Furthermore, despite historical and archeological evidence to the contrary, Muslims have proclaimed that Jews have no connection to the site and to East Jerusalem. This July, the World Heritage committee of UNESCO passed a resolution disavowing Israeli sovereignty of the Old City Of Jerusalem, which includes the Western wall and the Temple Mount. How Christian countries which believe in the Bible and New Testament can agree to such nullification of their own history is beyond belief. The decision by Israel to remove all security devices from the gates leading to the Mount has reinforced the Arab belief in their sovereignty over the site. Clearly, the Temple Mount is not “in our hands.”
  2. Anti Semitism- Anti Zionism is the new Anti Semitism. Anti Semitism is alive and well and is ever increasing its hold on the populations of the world. In Arab countries, it’s in their mother milk. Although some Arab leaders may secretly want to cooperate with Israel, the incitement and hatred promulgated through the years has created an Arab population whose pores ooze anti semitism. The European populace, bolstered by the large influx of muslim refugees, is not Jew friendly. America is seeing a rise in anti semitism that is likely to continue.
  3. The Diaspora- Only half the World’s Jews live in Israel. That means that the other half live in the Diaspora. While life in the Diaspora can be good, Israel is intended to be the homeland of the Jews. For two thousand years Jews prayed for their return to Jerusalem. Now that this is possible, Jews should put their money where their mouth is and come to live in Israel.
  4. Lack of Respect- The Rabbis say that one of the main reasons the second Temple was destroyed was because of the lack of respect Jews paid to each other. Today, this lack of respect has become endemic. Different Jewish sectors totally disparage each other- religious and secular, Haredim and other Jews, Orthodox and Conservative and Reform, and factions within these groups. If we don’t respect each other, how can we expect others to respect us? Only when there is a national crisis, do most groups pull together and briefly behave as one people.

So what can we do to try to better the situation and turn Tisha B’Av from a day of fasting into a day of rejoicing? To begin with, we need to vociferously denounce all attempts at denying the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. We must make it clear to everyone that Israel is the Jewish state both historically and legally and all attempts to deny this are false. In addition, Jews must visit Jerusalem and the Western Wall in large numbers to make it clear to all that Jerusalem and Israel belongs to the Jews.

The solution to Diaspora Jewry is clear. They should come to Israel now, of their own volition, before they are forced to leave. Those who are afraid of religious coercion need not worry. Israel is a democracy and all forms of Jewish worship are welcome. There is an egalitarian section of the Wall and it will be expanded and made even more aesthetically pleasing. Those looking to find meaning in their lives can reconnect with Judaism in a Jewish country in which one need not strive to hide one’s Jewishness to be accepted. Institutions of Jewish learning abound and are very welcoming.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for anti semitism. It will continue to gain new adherents. As the world becomes an ever more dangerous place, the Jews as scapegoat, aka Israel, will continue to grow in popularity, as expressions of sympathy with Israel will be forbidden. The recent lesbian marches are prime examples. However, all efforts should be made to counter this anti semitism in every way possible.

Finally, Jews need to begin treating each other with greater respect. There is no reason for name calling, or shaming Jews with whom one disagrees. One need not agree with a fellow Jew, but should not make the disagreement a basis for the denigration of the other. Multiple viewpoints can and should exist and the merits of each debated respectfully. We must remember that all Jews are family and we must try to act accordingly.

May everyone’s fast be easy and meaningful. May our next Tisha B’Av will be one of rejoicing, not mourning.

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Categories: Anti Semitism, Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Politics, Temple Mount, Tisha B"av, UNESCO, Western Wall Kotel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tisha B’Av Blues: Anti Israel Attitudes and Anti Semitism Are Growing

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Shalom Y”All:

As some of you may know, this Saturday night and Sunday religious Jews will be engaged in a 25 hour fast commemorating the many tragic events which occurred on Tisha B’av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. These include: the destruction of both Temples on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – the First by the Babylonians, the Second by the Romans- and a number of other calamities including: the exile of over one million Jews to the Roman Empire and the loss of Jewish statehood and independence; the crushing of the Betar Revolt to restore independence to Israel and the death of over 100,000 Jews; the beginning of the First Crusade which resulted in the death of over 10,000 Jews in the first month alone; the Spanish Inquisition, the bombing of the Jewish Center in Argentina which killed 86 people and many others.

On the evening of Tisha B’Av we recite the Eichah- the Book Of Lamentations written by the Prophet Jeremiah which describes the suffering of the Jewish people at the time of the destruction of the Temple. During the day -up until about midday- we recite other lamentations concerning the many evils inflicted on the Jews and the suffering which the Jews underwent during their long exile.

In case you think that it’s fine to recount our history of suffering, but in fact, it’s different today since Jews are once again in control of the Holy Land and not in danger,think again. There are many powerful forces arrayed against us trying to separate Jews from their land and cause harm to Jews everywhere.

The ADL estimates that over one billion people in the world harbor anti semitic attitudes. Of that number, 19% are in the Americas, 24% Western Europe, 34% Eastern Europe, 22% in Asia, 23% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 14% in Australia and New Zealand, and 74% in the Middle East and North Africa. 9% of Americans and 14% of Canadians share these hateful attitudes.

The number of violent anti-Semitic assaults taking place in the United States rose dramatically last year. According to ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents,  there were 56 assaults last year, compared to 36 the year before. 941 incidents were reported in the U.S. in 2015, a 3 percent increase from the 912 incidents recorded in 2014. The number of anti semitic incidents on college campuses nearly doubled from the year before- 90 incidents on 60 college campuses, compared to 47 incidents on 43 campuses the year earlier. This means that on average there is one anti-Semitic assault in the United States every week, and at least two anti-Jewish incidents on average every single day. These numbers, of course, do not include all the anti semitic and online harassment on social media.

While there are more than 200 territorial disputes in the world, Europe does not label products as made in Chinese-occupied Tibet or Turkish-occupied Cyprus. The European Union only labels goods made in the West Bank and Golan Heights. 40% of European Jewish leaders view Anti Semitism as the most dangerous threat facing their communities. The large number of Muslim immigrants streaming into Europe who have Anti Semitic views has led to open hatred of Jews in countries with small communities of Jews such as Holland and Sweden. 63% of Poles believe in a Jewish conspiracy to run the world. French Jews are emigrating to Israel in record numbers. Hamas and Hezbollah are constant threats. And finally, Palestinians who kill Jews are honored by the Palestinian authority.

And then there is Iran, whose leaders vow to eradicate Israel. And as for Palestinians, who are our supposed peace partners, in a 2015 poll conducted by David Pollock, 72% of Palestinians stated that they believe that Jews do not have historical ties to Jerusalem and  83% of Palestinians believe that the area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is Palestinian land to which Jews have no right. Only 12% agreed that both Jews and Palestinians have rights to the land.

These views are not surprising coming from Palestinians who have been suckled on the milk of Anti Semitism since birth. But for UNESCO’s Executive Board to adopt in April in Paris a resolution ignoring Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall area of  Jerusalem is quite another thing. When Jesus in the New Testament rails against the abuses in the selling of animals for sacrifices in the Temple, is that a mistake? Did he mean Mosque? And was Jesus a Moslem? Of course, since Mohammed would not be born for another 600 years, and Jesus brought Christianity, not Islam, to the world, this is ludicrous. This historical revisionism also raised its ugly head in the attempted rewriting of history by UNESCO in its declaration in October of 2015 that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb are Muslim holy sites. Was Jacob a Muslim? Was Rachel, his wife, a believer in Islam? Where was Mohammed? UNESCO will vote on the Temple Mount ownership issue in October.

So, in summary, Jewish persecution and suffering are very much with us today. And when we chant the lamentations, let’s remember that Anti Semitism and the desire to eliminate Israel are not behind us, but very much in front of us. And let’s do all we can to expose it and not pretend it doesn’t pertain to us, or that it’s just a passing phase. It concerns all Jews everywhere.  The fight to protect Jews and the State of Israel is ongoing. This is one battle that must be won.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Categories: Anti Semitism, Islamic Terrorism, Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, UNESCO | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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