Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tisha B'Av and more

July 24, 2007

Tisha B’Av

So I fully expected to fast and to feel something—anything—on Tisha B’av. This is the day that every Jewish disaster in history happened, if not in fact, in mythology, and so it is a commemoration and remembrance of all of them, with the notable exception of the Shoa, which gets its own day. What did I actually do? I didn’t fast. I didn’t go to services. I felt very little. I did ask others what they were doing and why. Israel, the guide from Brooklyn, fasts and thinks that Tisha B’Av is a good time for a people to collectively reflect on its past, present, and future (while Yom Kippur is for the individual—except all of the Yom Kippur liturgy is in first person plural…). Which is nice, but only if the community, as opposed to individuals, is actually doing that. Emma, the girl from Caltech with the Israeli boyfriend, fasts because it’s a way to remember. Erez, my hero, doesn’t do anything, but remembers good Jewish values like honoring his parents and not speaking ill of others. Joysa, the Recon rabbinical student, sees it as a way of mourning a Temple she doesn’t want to see rebuilt. I didn’t ask the guy at the falafel stand, but he greeted everyone with “yom tov,” which seemed rather contradictory. So I still don’t know how I feel, but the falafel was sababa (slang for excellent).

In the meantime, there was a trip to the museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv. That was interesting—not good, but interesting. It was a beautiful building, but a bit thin in what it presented. And it toed the party line all the way. All kinds of interesting issues and complexities never were dealt with. And in the end, for all the celebration of Jewish diversity in diaspora, where are we all supposed to go? Yeah, you guessed it. So a fundamental contradiction between vibrant cultures that are a response to and integrated with host cultures and one Israeli majority culture. Yes, I am more and more a fan of Ehud Ha-am, who saw the need for both, with ties between them, each strengthening the other’s understanding of self, religion, culture, and people.

One example—she spoke about the Jews of Alexandria and how that civilization was destroyed in 115-117 CE. Okay, guys, I wrote my master’s thesis on the subject (focused a bit earlier, but I read around the period). I know a little about it. She explained that the destruction happened because the Jews from Judea came to Alexandria after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE and explained to the Alexandrian Jews that they needed to fight for their civil rights. Because, you know, the Alexandrian Jews hadn’t noticed they were missing. There are SO MANY things wrong with this I hardly know where to begin. But the most glaring is that the Jews weren’t kicked out of Judea for good and proper until 135, so the chronology is just a touch off. And we just don’t know what the trigger was that caused the Jews to be wiped out of Alexandria and around the Mediterranean in large measure—it’s one reason I chose to write on an earlier time; there just wasn’t enough information on this one. There’s more, but I’ve already written about it—just ask if you want to borrow the thesis. In any case, I said something to the woman next to me about the Jews responding to a change in policy between Greek and Roman rule, and the guide told the woman another story. I just walked away—what was the point in saying any more? Ignorant git.

Which reminds me, I started Harry Potter Sunday at 3 PM and between reading, sleeping, homework, and class, finished it at 2:15 on Monday and immediately loaned it to Mirit, the girl who loves capoeira (she’s the Berkeley girl who also dislikes Rosanne, my ex-Hebrew teacher). So it’s making the rounds. All I will say is that I was not disappointed.

No comments: