Limitless Love to counter Baseless Hatred: Tisha B’Av 2017

What relevance can a fast marking the destruction of the Temple 2000 years ago possibly have for modern secular Israelis?

How can one really be expected to mourn over something one has not personally loved, cherished or revered?

This past Tisha B’Av, Ohr Torah Stone’s Yachad Program addressed these challenging questions and many more in communities across the country, with the goal of empowering modern, secular Israelis to find the messages in Tisha B’Av which speak to them and strengthen their connection to their history and heritage.

Prior to Tisha B’Av, Yachad’s 32 Jewish Cultural Facilitators taught about the baseless hatred that caused the Temples’ destruction in age-appropriate fashion in the nursery schools, camps and young leadership movements across the country. Then, on the night of Tisha B’av itself, thousands of secular and religious participants joined together to sit on the floor for the reading of Megillat Eicha [the Book of Lamentations] and hear panels of well-known public figures, celebrities, academics and spiritual leaders debate topical issues. Following the formal discourse, Yachad facilitators arranged for small group discussions in Hebrew, Russian, Spanish and English, enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to assess what they had heard, ask questions and express their own opinions.

Indeed, once exposed to an understanding of the destruction that causeless hatred can wreak, participants came away with a stronger commitment toward strengthening the country through unity. This energy is now being harnessed by the facilitators, who are launching their Tu B’Av events across the country, celebrating “Limitless Love” as an antidote to baseless hatred.

“It is not by coincidence that Tisha B’Av is followed six days later by Tu B’Av, the Jewish festival of love,” says Rabbi Riskin.  “As a people, we must remember and mourn what was destroyed,” he says. “But then we must get up again, take responsibility and do everything within our power to plan for our future.”