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The Balance of Tu B’Av


Hope Chernak is the Director of Youth and Informal Education at Temple Shaaray Tefila.

Heart for Tu BavToday is Tu B’Av.  Did you know that? Tu B’Av it’s one of those Jewish Holidays that not everyone is familiar with since it falls over the summer.  In the past, if Valentine’s Day fell on one of our youth group nights (TaSTY Lounge Night), I would use the opportunity to talk about Tu B’Av with our teens so they had a chance to learn about this summer holiday (even in the dead of the winter!).  I always found it interesting that this holiday comes on the heels of Tisha B’Av (this is a fasting time where we mourn great losses in Jewish history).  Our Jewish cycle always finds a way to offer us a time to reflect on sadness as well as gives us a time to love.  This is a balance that I know that I need in my life.

This Tu B’Av comes not only following a fasting holiday but a time of great tension and conflict in our Jewish community.  The conflict in Israel has been very painful.  I know that after spending time recently during a session about the conflict with the parents of our students at Shaaray Tefila that I am not alone in feeling the pain of what is happening in Israel and the Middle East.  Our Jewish community is in pain.  We are conflicted on how to respond to our students, how to process this conflict ourselves, and how to react to the media that doesn’t always share the fair side of the story.

Yesterday, I received an incredible email from one of our teen leaders, Sammi, who just returned from her second experience with “Seeds of Peace”.  This is a summer program that brings together children from Israel and Gaza for a camp experience who are working very hard to combat hatred and find peace.  Sammi shared something beautiful that I want to tie into Tu B’Av.  She acknowledge in her email to me that it is difficult time in the Middle East and while she recognized the importance of my passion for showing and giving support for Israel, she kindly ask me to remember that it is equally important that we have a fair and balanced approach to the education of what is happening with the conflict.  Sammi ended her email with the perfect line for a love song or poem.  She said, “I just hope that as a society we can learn to share our love for what we believe in, instead of our hate for the other side because that is the first step towards peace.”  She is right on target.  We can spend hours debating how the situation is being shared in the media but what we don’t spend enough time talking about is sharing our love.  Love can bind us together and help us take the steps we need to find peace between all that dwell together in the Middle East.

It is custom to send love notes and to share love poems during Tu B’Av.  Perhaps our Jewish love poem for Israel this Tu B’Av is to find the love for ourselves, our people, and more importantly find the love for others so that one day, we see ourselves with our neighbors as our brothers and sisters.  May this love be large enough and strong enough to share with all and not just with ourselves and that this will indeed be the first steps to peace.

Ken yehi ratzon- May it be God’s will.