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Why I am going gray for Tisha B’Av

She removed her Facebook photo (her identity), in favor of common ground (humanity), to reduce the hatred that divides

I’ve taken down my profile pic and cover photo this week on Facebook.

Which is kind of a big deal for me since I am That Girl who is always changing her FB avitar and cover photo — whether it’s a new season, (or a new nose ring,) or something more important like #JeSuisJuif or #LoveWins or #IAmTelAviv

But this week I’ve gone gray — just the FB female avatar against a gray backdrop. The same picture everyone identifying as female gets when she signs onto FB for the first time.

The cover photo, too, is gone. No more Jerusalem or rolling fields or rainbow or rock-star kids.

Because it’s almost Tisha B’av —  the day we mourn the ramifications of sinat chinam — baseless hatred, and the destruction it caused to our Temple and people, and could cause easily again.

It’s not the destruction of the Temple that makes me weep. It’s the cause. The hatred that filled us as a people and turned neighbor against neighbor. And while we were fighting among ourselves, we were so sorely weakened that it didn’t take much to break our stones and fortifications, and send us scrambling for our lives from our Holy City.

But why take down my Facebook photo?

Because so much hate comes from our perceptions of others, and in the way we measure these differences.

Our skin color. Our religion. The way we dress, or cover our hair, or our bodies with ink. The markers that make us who we are all become points of comparison and discussion and interpretation and judgement.

Now, the markings of my identity are things I carry with me gratefully and with joy. But these are the days we remember that dreadful time in our history as a people where we turned on one another. That dreadful time when we allowed baseless hate to fill us, and nearly destroy us, as it destroyed our Temple.

And there’s that sound of breaking stone and glass that echoes down to the bones of today, and I can see it happening all over again, not just in our little corner, but all over the world: bigotry and fear are threatening to destroy us. From attacks on human rights groups in Israel, to the rise of Donald Trump, for every wall we build, and every bridge we destroy. For man’s inhumanity to man we see from Islamic State, to our own backyard bickerings.

These are dark times where the differences we measure between us separate us from finding common ground.

So, I LOVE that the generic Facebook avatar reminds me that, above all, I am human.

And nothing more.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Times of Israel's New Media editor, lives in Israel with her two kids in a village next to rolling fields. Sarah likes taking pictures, climbing roofs, and talking to strangers. She is the author of the book Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered. Sarah is a work in progress.
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