The Great Divide

The great divide…that sea of space and culture and worlds…seems so much greater at this moment than ever before. I can’t help but wonder if any of my US-based relatives realize what today is…what it means for the Jewish people.

I shouldn’t write this. I know that some do…but I am overwhelmed by how many do not. I see their posts on Facebook today…and they make me incredibly sad. I want to reach out to them and explain…today is Tisha B’Av – the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. On this day, unbearable sorrows happened to the Jewish people – again and again and again. Both of our Temples were destroyed in Jerusalem and to this very day, we do, we should, feel their loss.

Do you understand, in that far off land where you live…what that means? Hundreds of Jews, perhaps thousands and more, were murdered on this day – because they were Jews. Worlds changed for us – on this day, always on this day. Do you understand today is not a day of happiness and food and celebration. Today is a day we surrender to the tears and the pain. We are the nation of Israel. Where have you gone?

I wanted to post a picture of the Western Wall, filled with people and ask you to look beyond it. What we lost is what you cannot see – the Temple Mount, Har HaBayit. THIS is what we mourn…this is what we lost. We…yes, we…me, you, your children and mine.

We are outside Har HaBayit. Do you understand what that means? Do you understand the significance of that fact?

We were once up there, today, on a day we mourn, Israeli police closed Har HaBayit to us completely. And do you know why? History will tell you it was because the Romans defeated us, sent us into exile, but the truth is that we defeated ourselves. What we did back then, we are doing today…and yes, you are doing it.

We are not up there because we are guilty of judging others, because we are guilty of not loving our fellow Jews enough and because we forget. We choose to fight; we fail to communicate properly and we don’t remember that no matter where we live, we are Jews first.

For all these reasons, this picture is the saddest one I could post today. We are mourning here, close to where so much was destroyed and we see what is left…by our guilt, by our wrongs, by our indifference and by our forgetting who and what we are. Some of you pray in a church and I know what that would do to our grandfather. Some of you have never been here and most likely will never come. Where are you?

I don’t care about the Zimmerman trial and if he is guilty or innocent – that seems to be the greatest injustice in your minds today – but there are so many so greater, especially today. What of Israel, what of Jerusalem, what of the Holy Temples? Why do you not mourn these today? Why do you not write of the injustice? Our country was hit by 10 mortars from Syria today – thankfully no one was hurt. Why don’t you write about that?

Did you know it was today during the Spanish Inquisition that Jews were expelled from Spain? Do you know your own history?

This is what happened today:

  • The sin of the spies caused Hashem to decree that the Children of Israel who left Egypt would not be permitted to enter the land of Israel;
  • On this day, the first Temple was destroyed;
  • On this day, the second Temple was destroyed;
  • On this day, Betar, the last fortress to hold out against the Romans during the Bar Kochba revolt in the year 135, fell, sealing the fate of the Jewish people.
  • On this day, one year after the fall of Betar, the Temple area was plowed.
  • On this day in 1290, King Edward I of England signs an edict expelling all Jews from England.
  • On this day in 1492, King Ferdinand of Spain issued the expulsion decree, setting Tisha B’Av as the final date by which not a single Jew would be allowed to walk on Spanish soil.
  • On this day, World War I – which began the downward slide to the Holocaust – began on Tisha B’av.
  • On this day in World War II – Himmler presented his plan for the “Final Solution” to the Jewish problem to the Nazi Party.
  • On thiss day in World War II – Nazis begin deporting Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.
  • On this day in 1994, the AMIA (the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina) was bombed and 86 people were killed and another 300 were wounded.
  • On this day, today, Israel was hit with 10 mortars fired from Syria.
  • And in the last two days, two babies in Israel were left in cars accidentally and they died.

So long as we can look the other way when another Jew is in need; so long as we care more about what we have than what our brothers need…for so so long, we have waited. All these tragedies are our history – yours and mine and today we remember them. Do you? Where are you?

Last night, we sat on the ground and read the Book of Lamentations. Have you ever read it? Eicha…we read it and cried, for ourselves, for Jerusalem, for those who died for their religion and their people, and for you, who live across the great divide.

Please God, let this be the last time we sit on the floor and listen to Eicha, to the destruction of our beloved Jerusalem.

May this be the last year, God, please, let this be the last year that we mourn and may You help end the greatest divide in Jewish history and bring our brothers and sisters, cousins, parents, uncles and aunts home to the only land, the only place that is our home.

About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.