I’ve experienced Tisha B’av at home, where I listened to Aicha, woke up late the next morning, took a nap, and counted the hours till the end. I’ve experienced Tisha B’av at my sleepaway camp, where I listened to Aicha and personal stories from fellow campers, woke up a bit earlier than usual the next morning, attended programming all over the campus, then came back to take a nap and count the hours till the end. This year, however, I experienced Tisha B’av in Eretz Yisrael, where I sang kinot with all new girls and advisors who have now become best friends to me and poured my heart out at the Kotel, surrounded by thousands of fellow Jews praying for the same thing.
I never thought just being in Israel for this Tish B’Av could make it all the more meaningful. Particularly seeing the Kotel, the only remaining part of the Beit Hamikdash that we have, that we so badly want to be rebuild, really made all the more difference because I could see that beautiful surviving fraction of what exactly I was praying for. I could connect so much more, as opposed to when I sit in my house on the cold tile floor or sit in camp in the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, trying to recall the destruction of something I can’t envision. I realized that when it comes down to it, this is our home, and you can feel that so much more when you are here. If our actions once led to its destruction, I truly believe our actions can bring about its rebuilding.
-Leah Scher, West Hempstead, NY