9/10 August 2019, 8/9 Av 5779

Last weekend I went to listen to Yael Naim at the Purcell Rooms. She is an Israeli French songwriter, indeed she became the first Israeli ever to be in the U.S top ten when one of her songs was picked by Steve Jobs to advertise the new Mac Book Air in 2008.

She brought much Jewish neurosis ad charm to her performance on Sunday, including her protegee, ‘younger brother’ Eyal another Israeli musician who warmed us up before she arrived. Her repertoire had been upbeat but Sunday’s concert was her new material, ‘fresh from the fridge’ as she described. It was mournful and full of both grief and acceptance. I find such music always moving. Indeed Joni Mitchell and Carole King form the soundtrack of my life, melancholic female vocals.

But sitting in the Purcell rooms life and our Jewish calendar coincided. Unwittingly it was the perfect way to approach the 9 Av which falls this Shabbat and is, as we know, the ultimate day of mourning in the Jewish calendar. We Progressive Jews, have struggled at times with this memorial of disaster; for the destruction of both temples, believing as we do in progress of Judaism from Temple worship, but the day has also acted as a magnet for disaster throughout history. But, of course, we have no problem engaging with grief and mourning and so this day reminds.

Rabbi Alan Lew z’l *changed my perspective when he suggested 9 Av, Tisha B’Av is the gateway to the ‘undoing’ of our hearts in preparation of Elul and the HHD season. We will only benefit from the renewal and return that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur offer if we unpack or break up the walls, protection and stubbornness that we have built through the past year [or years].

Whether you relate to the history and memory of this day or the symbolic and religious opportunity it gives, it offers something rich.

This year we do not have a commemoration at FPS but I attach a Thought for the Day I recorded for Jewish Care on the theme of Tisha B’Av. Click here to listen.

Shabbat Shalom and hoping your summer is suitably recharging and relaxing.

Rabbi Rebecca

*This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation 2003