It may seem like a strange thing to say, but I miss my father, z”l on Tisha B’Av. I grew up in the ’70s, in a small town in Massachusetts. Although we were somewhat Jewishly isolated, my father always found interesting ways to enrich our Jewish experiences and practices. One of our more interesting traditions that we shared together was food shopping in the afternoons of Tisha B’Av.
Traditionally, Tisha B’Av has been the day for mourning multiple tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout the millennia. My father and I would spend the morning as prescribed, in synagogue, fasting, sitting on the floor, saying the traditional kinot/solemn payers of the day. And then in the afternoon, we would go from supermarket to supermarket looking for newly minted kosher food. The ’70s was a time before kosher food products were available in abundance, and my father would scour supermarket shelves all over the Merrimack Valley looking for newly certified kosher products.
If that sounds strange or irreverent to you, you’re not alone. On a fast day, most people would want to avoid places where there is food, smells, or anything that will make them feel hungry. Not my father. Inevitably, during these annual expeditions, we would find some type of recently kosher-certified cracker, the elusive kosher anchovy, mustard, BBQ sauce, or an obscure kosher cheese that we could use to break our fast. It was fun, it helped pass the time, and was quality time for father and son. While it may not have been his intention, our annual excursions taught me from a young age, that no matter where I am, there is always kosher food to be found. And although this may not have been/and may still not be the lessons of Tisha B’Av, it’s one of those lessons my father taught us growing up, that has served me well on my adventures to remote locations across the globe.
Over the years we were separated by time and space, but each year on Tisha B’Av, my dad and I would reminisce of our Tisha B’Av finds of years gone by. I miss making that call today. Our tradition teaches us about the importance of memory and we were fortunate that my father, z”l had interesting ways of making things memorable. May we merit to experience the rebuilding of Jerusalem in our day, and may the memory of Todros Ben Meir, z”l always be for a blessing.