Magshimim’s Tisha Ba’av
(I apologize in advance that there are no photos associated with this blog. Due to the solemnity of the occasion, I did not interrupt the activity with any pictures.)
Yesterday was Tisha b’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year, the day when we mourn the destruction of our batei mikdash, our Holy Temples. Due to their increased maturity, tzad bet commemorates this day differently from tzad aleph, so our observance of Tisha b’Av was new for everyone. It was a very powerful day.
Following Shabbat, we all gathered in the darkened Beit Am Gadol and sat on the floor to hear the reading of Eichah, the Book of Lamentations. (The reading was done entirely by chanichim (campers) – huge “mazel tov”s to Adeena Bromberg-Selzer and Ariel Siegfeld who chanted sections aloud!) According to custom, we did not do any singing during our tefillah (prayer), but rather recited the traditional ma’ariv (evening service).
Following the reading of eichah, chanichim returned to their tzrifim (bunks) where they were divided into two groups and given specific instructions. One group, for example, was told to pretend that the word “torah” was an inside joke and whenever anyone said the word they would laugh and say “Remember that!? Hahahahaha!” The two groups were not told what the other group’s instructions were, and then one person from each group was selected to move into the other group without receiving any instructions. After a few minutes had passed, the groups debriefed: when someone joined them, did they welcome the new person? Did they explain their customs? Or did they let the newcomer sit on the outside? As Jews, do we welcome people into our circles? Are we welcomed into other circles? It was a powerful experience for all to see how easy it is to be welcoming, and how often we don’t do enough to welcome the strangers in our midst.
The next morning we gathered as a community for shacharit (morning prayers), and then held a special peulah (activity) for Magshimim. We divided the chanichim into groups and led them on an exercise involving the hypothetical destruction of Tzrif 54, a uniquely beloved spot on camp. The activity led chanichim through the stages of grief and gave them ultimately a chance to decide how they would react as leaders of the community to the destruction of so important a site – would they try to rebuild it exactly? Leave the space as a memorial? Write poetry? Chanichim saw themselves as the sages did 2,000 years ago and came up with some beautiful responses in order to move forward.
We spent the afternoon watching a very powerful German film that shows how easy it is for society to descend into chaos if we don’t hold on to our values. We debriefed the film afterwards, and it was universally regarded as a powerful and poignant film for Tisha b’Av and for this time of chaos in our world.
The day ended with a beautiful tekes (ceremony) marking the end of they day and a break fast meal for those who had been fasting. It was truly a special time to be together in a unique way – we connected at a level that we don’t usually get to experience during the excitement of our day-to-day routines here. A powerful day, many beautiful memories.
עושה שלום במרומיו, הוא יעשה שלום עלינו ועל כל ישראל
OSEH SHALOM BIMROMAV, HU YA’ASEH SHALOM ALEINU V’AL KOL YISRAEL
MAY THE ONE WHO MAKES PEACE IN HIS HEIGHTS ABOVE MAKE PEACE FOR US AND FOR ALL ISRAEL