What can Av teach us?

Disclaimer: I am no religious expert, these are just my thoughts…and I hope this brings a different perspective + overall creates more dialogue around this concept.

Today is August 1st, our country is on fire, more and more people are dying because of COVID-19; a virus that is making us question everything: How did we get here? What can we do? How do we survive?

This is real, yes, we’re still living in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC..

When looking at the world and my place in it, I find some comfort and solace knowing that I am not alone. We’re not alone. As a Jewish American womxn, I have always wrestled with a part of my identity that sometimes is hard to admit. I am a Jew.

While the world is in a very uncertain, eerie, dark and unsettling place. The Jewish calendar opens our EYES to more than we were ever taught in Hebrew School (at least for me) and I can’t help but wonder: How do we mourn for this new way of living? What can we learn? How can we move forward? What can Av Teach Us?

As Jews, we follow a Lunarsolar Calendar. What does this mean? It means, we follow the Moon so we’re technically in two different universes, right? I like to think so. Again, no expert but this is quite interesting, isn’t it? The month of July-August is known as “Av” This month is supposedly all about mourning the great destruction of two major temples in Jerusalem. Not relatable? Exactly…same here.

The way I see it:

Jews from around the world are observing “Tisha B’v” July 29th-30th was the SADDEST day of the year. To show that we’re in solidarity, to mourn for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem…we’re called to fast from sundown-sundown. So basically we’re given permission to mourn?

What are we mourning in present day?

Not being able to see close friends, loved ones and family the way we usually do. Now we’re required to socially distance ourselves, stand 6 feet apart at least and wear a mask at all times except when eating or drinking. Social gatherings more than 10 are prohibited, concerts and live music aren’t happening and the beloved vibrant and lively Red Rocks is empty. Complete silence.

It is quite an eerie place right now and probably will continue to be until we have a new leader running America again, have a vaccine and numbers have dropped. Basically, to fill out days and out times, majority of us (those who are able to do so and are privileged to have this) spend time at home, watching shows/movies, cuddling our animals. For me, I have watched House of Cards completely through, other shows, documentaries and discovered how weird and also freeing it is take time to slow down and take space to think, to grow and mourn. In addition, Zoom is our new way of connecting with others and we can meet people who don’t even live in America; which is pretty incredible.

What systems have been broken/shifted + will never be the same?

Social Services/Community Orgs/Mental Health: As someone who has worked in the field of social work with a focus on community organizations and social systems, I have had the pleasure, joy and really great privilege of being able to learn, to grow into who I am today and to DO MORE for the greater good of humanity.

Just like anything, when we aren’t living, breathing and doing this kinda work, we sometimes sweep it under the rug. America, teaches us instead of fixing the problems, a band-aid will do.

During the Global Pandemic, it’s becoming more clear that we are in a state of pure and utter insanity. One of my favorite musicians, Nahko and Medicine for the People came out with a new album called Take Your Power Back. “Dear Brother” is one that we all should be listening to and paying attention to. Give it a listen.

The American Dream:

At a young age, we learn about the founding principles of our country, who our founding fathers are and how important it is to get a good education, to work hard to work our way up to make more $, enjoy the fruits of our labor, turn a blind eye and very often just brush off our shoulders, the hate, the injustice that is always under the rug.

Now: Innocent lives are being taken from this awful virus. We still don’t know what caused it and how this happened. We do know, that there are MAJOR ISSUES that we have never fixed in the first place! The truth is, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. The 1% are profiting from billions and billions of dollars.

ALL our EYES to the reality of our country. Now, because of the pandemic and the unfortunate increase of deaths of in particular black, brown, indigenous, persons of color. We’re seeing a clear distinction on how BROKEN, how SEGREGATED we really are.

What silver lining can we see and what lessons can we learn from all of this?

Unfortunately, the virus is unpredictable (it does not discriminate and it can lead to death, which we have seen; numbers are sky-rocketing more and more.

What Can Av Teach us?

If anything, Av can show us the importance of taking the time to slow down, to close our eyes and be here now. It can teach us how important is it to embrace everyday, every moment, every breath. To let go of the life we knew, to grieve and cry because life as we know it will never be the same and that’s okay.