I am what many in the Jewish community would label as an “insider.” I work for a Jewish organization, attend Shabbat services regularly and am an active participant on several committees at my synagogue, of which I am a proud dues-paying member. With that being the case, many of my fellow “insiders” assume that I’ll be spending a portion of my weekend fasting and at synagogue, observing Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning on the Jewish calendar. Last year was the first time I observed Tisha B’Av, choosing to fast and attend services several times with hopes of connecting to the power and meaning of the day. But by sun-down after a long day, I just found myself hungry and disappointed, not having felt any spiritual or religious connection.
This year, I hesitate to observe in the same, traditional manner as last year, despite the expectations of being an “insider.” Instead, I’m considering observing Tisha B’Av, a day reminding us of destruction and exile, in an alternative way, one that might provide me with a deeper spiritual connection. This year I’d like to do my part to ensure that in the future, no community will ever have a reason to mourn for the same reasons that many will fast this Saturday night and Sunday. We can not reverse history, but we can make a difference for communities that currently face devastation, including the refugees of Darfur and the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. For those on the “inside” or “outside,” fasting all day or not at all, why not take a moment to reflect and even act to make certain that no other People have a day of mourning like Tisha B’Av?