Wednesday morning I sent out my first “Rabbi’s Update” after returning from vacation but with Tisha B’Av on the horizon, I wanted to make sure you received the necessary information for observing the day. I will repeat that info at the end of this message.
I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who helped with coverage while I was on vacation. In particular I want to thank our Ritual VP, Bryan Levenson, for all his hard work. Rabbi Emeritus Mark Raphael provided backup coverage when I was out of town and led services one Shabbat morning. Many others stepped up to lead minyan and Shabbat services, give drashot, and chant Torah and Haftarah. I appreciate the fact that Kehilat Shalom understands that rabbis are human beings with the need for some down time and has always made sure that its rabbis actually get to take their vacations and days off, barring true emergencies. I’m very thankful.
I wanted to note that I have switched my weekly day off to Monday instead of Tuesday. As we start to do more programs with other shuls, and as more and more professional seminars and webinars take place, I have found that the vast majority of rabbis take Monday off and scheduling meetings with other rabbis has become complicated. The one exception is that on Mondays when we have a synagogue board meeting, I will work on Monday and take Tuesday instead.
As I noted Wednesdays, on Saturday night and Sunday we observe Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of Av where we commemorate the destruction of both the First and Second Temples. The actual date of 9 Av is tonight and tomorrow but the observance is pushed off until the next day because we do not fast on Shabbat unless it coincides with Yom Kippur. This year a number of Conservative shuls have gotten together for this observance and we will be observing together with Shaare Tefila and B’nai Shalom, both in Olney, as well as Tikvat Israel.
Tisha B’Av is a fast day and the only 24-hour fast other than Yom Kippur (the “Minor Fast Days” like the Fast of Esther and the 17th of Tammuz are daylight fasts). Since the creation of the State of Israel and the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem, many Conservative Jews no longer fast the entire day and observe the custom of Camp Ramah to fast only through lunch. While this practice has not officially been ratified by the Law Committee, Camp Ramah is run by the Jewish Theological Seminary and it seems to be an accepted practice. One unique aspect of Tisha B’Av is that tallit and tefillin are not worn while davening the morning of Tisha B’Av. But as the mood of the day moves from mourning to hope (which is the precedent for the practice of ending the fast in the afternoon) tallit and tefillin are worn for minchah instead.I f you attend our Zoom minyan on Sunday evening you will notice some of our members wearing tallit and tefillin for minchah and you are invited to do so as well if you own these items.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by. Starting in a couple of weeks I will be having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoon at the shul.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian