This Sunday, Jews around the world will observe a solemn Jewish holiday called Tisha B’Av. According to our tradition, it was on the 9th of Av that both the First and Second Temples were destroyed – first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and then by the Romans in the year 70 CE. Jewish tradition further teaches that throughout our history many of the worst atrocities against the Jews fell on Tisha B’Av.
In remembrance of these catastrophes, many Jews observe a day-long fast and read from the Book of Lamentations, a scroll in which the author bewails the destruction of the First Temple and the exile of the Jews from Jerusalem.
While very few Reform Jews observe Tisha B’Av in a formal way, our angst and fears about Jerusalem continue to be real for all of us today. Our threats come from within our faith and from forces beyond us.
Internally, the Ultra-Orthodox control of the Temple Plaza and all religious activities in the State of Israel represents a threat to Jews around the world. Externally, issues concerning Jerusalem, in general, and the Temple Mount, in particular, remain a constant impediment to peace in the region. These are real concerns for all of us, and they remind us that Jerusalem is and has always been central to our faith.