Tisha B’Av is 9/11

Photos of the 61 out of 64 soldiers killed in “Operation Protective Edge”

Co Authored with David Abramowitz, President of the Jewish Leadership Institute

Tisha B’Av will begin in less than thirty minutes East Coast time. It’s a fast day on the Jewish calendar. It’s a sad day that commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. and the loss of Jewish sovereignty in our land of Israel. If you have ever been in Israel on Tisha B’Av, you would be shocked to see that it feels very much like a festive occasion. After waiting 2,000 years we got Israel back in 1948, and in 1967 the Old City of Jerusalem became ours again. No one could imagine being without either again, and tens of thousands of people jam the Kotel in celebration to confirm this.

Tisha B’Av Celebrations in Jerusalem, Israel, 8.4.14

And that’s how it’s been for many years. The sheer joy we feel about our homeland has made it difficult to grasp the emotional essence of Tisha B’Av. But not this year. Jewish children have been kidnapped and killed. Thousands of rockets have been shot at us. Dozens of tunnels have been dug into our land for sole purpose of doing harm to Jews. What if these things didn’t happen, and I had you simply imagine them as an exercise to get you to understand Tisha B’Av. In imaginary form, you would be horrified. In the concrete, you reach a real, visceral understanding of the meaning of Tisha B’Av. Tisha B’av is about another act of imagination: What would your life be like if we didn’t have Israel? How would you feel? What would you do?


This year in particular forces us to face the (sadly) eternal truth of Tisha B’Av: we Jews always survive, but there’s always someone who doesn’t want us to. The name of the commemoration is simply the date (unlike Passover or Chanukah). It’s the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. An interesting point to make: Av is the eleventh month of the Jewish year. So Tisha B’Av is 9/11. Every year. That’s the reality of Jewish history.

But there’s a flip side to Tisha B’Av. We happen to live in a time when Israel is ours, and can defend itself. The day should motivate us to recognize the gift that this moment in Jewish history has bestowed on us.

Jews fast so we can feel. You should fast for at least some part of the day. You should pick a time frame, and don’t eat or drink. But do feel.

About the Author
Leah Stern is currently Global Communications Partner at OurCrowd, promoting the world's leading venture investment platform to the world media, as well as OurCrowd's 240+ portfolio companies. Stern is also founder of London based "Stern Power Limited," a full service tech PR and communications agency made up of ex-journalists that deliver high quality media relations, press strategy and storytelling. Stern served as producer and anchor for the Israeli Government Press Office News in Jerusalem, and continues to act as a multimedia journalist and content producer for Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and Miami Herald. Stern was formerly the SE Regional Director of NPH USA, a non-profit organization that responds to the plight of orphaned and abandoned children in Latin America. Stern has spent the past ten years as an international correspondent in the Middle East as a TV reporter, anchor and editor for IBA News in Jerusalem, Israel's only local English language news program. Stern frequently directed, produced, and filmed news features in Israel for CNN's World Report Program. Stern was embedded with the Israel Defense Forces during Israel's disengagement from Gaza; broadcasted live war reporting during the second Lebanon War from Israel's north; Conducted Inside coverage of Pope John Paul II's Funeral in Rome; Documented a two-day journey in Ethiopia with the Falash Mura. From 2010-2012, Stern was based in Rome, serving as a liaison between the Israeli government and the Vatican, producing content for the world media and social networking avenues, including Vatican TV co-productions. Stern is fluent in Hebrew, conversational in Italian, proficient in HD video shooting, SLR photography and editing. Stern graduated with honors, from the University of Miami with a degree in film production and Political Science and studied abroad at the renowned Film, Arts, Music University in Prague.