Faith Matters

Lamenting with my Jewish neighbors on Tisha B’Av

The Book of Lamentations resonates with the stories of oppressed immigrants and refugees.

During the evening of the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, we gather in front of the courthouse downtown. All of us wear black. Many are fasting. Carolina Jews for Justice has organized a service of mourning for Tisha B’Av, a day set aside to remember the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. This year Jews in our city lament the catastrophes of the past along with the terrors of the present, as the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agents ravage our community—gestapo-like police who kidnap undocumented residents and transport them to detention centers.

We arrive in silence. “Our own history is filled with stories of displacement, of communities torn apart,” the rabbi calls out into the night. “We gather here to commemorate these historic tragedies and call for an end to the ongoing tragedy in this country, where families are torn apart and asylum seekers are denied refuge.” With these words she begins the service of prayer, centering us on passages from the scroll of Eicha, the book of Lamentations, with several verses read as a call and response:

My eyes are spent with tears, my heart is in tumult.
My being melts away over the ruin of my people.
Far from me is any comforter who might revive my spirit.
My children are forlorn, for the foe has prevailed.