Good Mourning?

TishaBAv230x150-ENI’m a little confused. Yesterday was Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av and a day of fasting and mourning for Jews to commemorate the laundry list of tragedies that have happened on this exact day through history. Here’s an overview, stolen from one of my own posts:

“The Mishnah discusses the Five Great Calamities that happened in Jerusalem on the same day years apart, including the destruction of both temples and the Bar Kochba’s failed revolt against the Romans.

And the pattern continues:
The Jews were kicked out of England on the ninth of Av in the year 1290 CE, Spain kicked us out on the same day in 1492, Germany declared war on Russia in 1914, the Nazis began deporting Jews out of the Warsaw ghetto in 1942.

Sometimes there’s a time zone gaffe, but bad things still happen when it’s Tisha B’Av somewhere: The AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires took place on the 10th of Av in 1994.”

And there’s more: On the day after Tisha B’Av in 2005, Israel began its unilateral disengagement of the Gaza Strip settlements and the forced expulsion of the residents of Gush Katif, and the next year, the IDF fought Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av.

It’s not a fun holiday at all. Observant Jews fast, and though I grew up Reform, there were always somber, educational activities at Jewish summer camp that fed my fundamental identity that I was part of a tribe that had survived much.

So here’s why I’m famisht: Why was this day completely ignored at my kids’ Jewish summer camp at the JEA? As far as I know, there was no mention of Tisha B’av yesterday, only sugar highs from donuts and the excitement of having a sleepover in the auditorium that evening. Sure, there are plenty of non-Jewish children at this camp and no one wants to freak them out with tales of Temple burnings and ghetto murders, but really? Not even a little white-washed program squeezed in between hip-hip dance and free swim?

We want summertime to be so free and easy, full of afternoons by the pool and sticky popsicle lips. But as Jews, the more we ignore the difficult and ugly parts of our history, the more likely those parts will come back to bite us on the ass.

I don’t blame the camp, but the main reason I sent my kids there is because I figure they’ll get at least a smidgen of Jewish education by osmosis. Yes, as a Jewish parent it’s ultimately my responsibility to teach my children their heritage, but I can’t possibly shoulder the burden of history entirely.

Maybe next year El Yenta Man and I will do a puppet show by the pool and serve popsicles.

6 thoughts on “Good Mourning?

  1. … Come to think of it, my daughter’s JCC camp didn’t do anything special, either. (Of course, I didn’t mention much about it, either — not much energy to discuss things after I hadn’t eaten.) I’d just gotten so used to day care or kindergarten totally ignoring our cultural norms (at least the JCC doesn’t obsess with Santa Claus), I hadn’t noticed the omission.

    I agree the solution to “this holiday can be depressing” is not “let’s ignore it entirely”. It’ll be something to keep in mind for next year.

  2. I hear ya. One of our very good friends, whom we haven’t seen in over a month, invited us to come to her son’s birtday party – on Tisha B’Av!

    No, it wasn’t his actual birth-day.

    Yes, they are Jewish.

    Seriously.

  3. Seed Camp across the street at BBJ cancelled that day to allow for fasting etc. but JEA camp has a number of people who might be confused by the sad theme. Judaism on the down beat is not for them. Of course I think it is part of Americans not liking unpleasant memories events etc. unless they are made for t.v. miniseries.

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