Mourning and Action

July 26, 2023

By Rabbi Lonnie Kleinman

Tonight is the start of Tisha B’av, which represents a central day of mourning for Jews around the world. It marks not only our mourning for the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE, but also the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the final crushing of the Bar Kochba rebellion against Roman rule in the Land of Israel in 135 CE, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the Chmielnicki pogroms of 1648 in Ukraine, and numerous other catastrophes throughout Jewish history. And this week, we also mourn destruction from within as we witness the actions of an extremist Israeli government.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the sense of loss Jews likely felt as the very structure of their social fabric crumbled around them with the loss of their Temple: the core convening point for ritual, social, and communal life throughout the land. I wonder about the ways in which this loss was felt both individually and communally. How did this loss show up in the bodies of the people? Did they feel a sinking feeling? An emptiness? A numbness? 

The truth is, as a queer, Jew, I’ve felt a lot of these things recently. With over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed this year, these attacks hit at the core of what it means to be LGBTQ+. They aim to destroy our very social and communal fabrics. I feel these attacks deep in my bones, and the loss reverberates through me.

In experiencing these losses, I’m reminded of the ways in which it’s necessary to pause, to mourn, to cry out in lament. As Jews, we have moments and rituals for this and yet, we cannot let that be the place where we remain.

From the destruction of the Temple, slowly a new way emerged. The Rabbis built a different path forward for learning, for community, for living Jewishly. I wonder about the dreams my LGBTQ+ siblings and I will make a reality on the ruins of our losses. Help us make these dreams a reality by taking action and supporting Keshet. There is a way forward, and I can begin to imagine what it is, but I need you to join me in order to make it real.