Congregation Kol Tikvah in Parkland will host what is anticipated to be an enlightening and moving Erev Tisha B’Av service on July 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Tisha B’Av is an annual holy day commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. It has been called “the saddest day in Jewish history” and it also one of general mourning for the numerous catastrophes that have coincidentally befallen Jews on the ninth of Av.
Cantor Malcolm Arnold of Kol Tikvah, a Reform synagogue, will lead this upcoming service. Arnold said the congregation began hosting this Tisha B’Av service eight years ago and that it is something most Reform synagogues don’t observe. As far as the look of the service, he said it won’t be much different than a Friday evening Shabbat service.
“I will be leading the service by myself, both doing the music and readings, but what we’ve done is we’ve incorporated a lot of the traditional ingredients of a Tisha B’Av service. Because it’s not an Orthodox type of service, we don’t observe some of the customs of sitting on the floor or on boxes as if you’re in a house of mourning. We do dim the lights and we do minimize the socializing in that it is a sad holiday, but it is a sad holiday with a message of reconstruction of almost celebrating the fact that despite the numerous tragedies that we’ve faced as a people, we are still here, which is quite unique.”
Arnold said there are several things that people can take away from attending the service.
“I think we need to show respect and empathy for those who have died in honor of Judaism or by just the fact they were born to be Jews and suffered consequences at the hands of history. I think it’s important to remember that.”
Arnold continued, “It’s also a significant holiday on the calendar, whether we believe in all the ambitions of the holiday to rebuild the Temple.
We don’t particularly believe in that, but we do see that it’s worth immersing ourselves in. It is the same way in which we study the Book of Leviticus, which is mostly information dealing with the temple cult. It doesn’t exist anymore but we still study it because it’s part of who we are and part of our history.”
Arnold concluded, “We need to look at this holiday in the perspective of Reform Judaism.”
Jennifer Levin-Tavares, the congregation’s executive director, said, “Holding a Tisha B’Av Service does set Kol Tikvah apart because most Reform congregations don’t actively mark this holiday.”
“Judaism is about remembering moments in our history and giving them meaning in modern times,” she continued. “Recalling the destruction of the original Temples can be related to the desecration and destruction of sacred places that is happening in many parts of the world today.”
Levin-Tavares concluded, “It is important to be mindful of these tragedies because it helps us appreciate what we do have, to be empathetic and understanding towards others who are suffering, and to be motivated to help repair the world (tikkun olam).”
Arnold noted, regarding the importance of hosting this service with the current rise of anti-Semitism in the world, “It certainly brings to mind that this is nothing new and the fact that we see that again, we’re still here despite the animosity and prejudice that has been shown to Jews over the centuries and that the bigger picture is that we seem to be protected by our God and that we have a mission.
We hope that through education, people will understand our message and perhaps reach peace with other people.”
Call the congregation’s office at 954-346-7878 or visit koltikvah.net for more information. Kol Tikvah is located at 6750 North University Dr. in Parkland.