FROM POLAND TO NEW ZEALAND, TURKEY TO WYOMING, A WORLDWIDE AUDIENCE TUNES IN FOR MESSAGES OF WISDOM AND CONSOLATION ON RABBI WEINREB’S ANNUAL TISHA B’AV WEBCAST ON WWW.OU.ORG
The message was worthy of a world-wide audience, and that is exactly what it received. As Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb delivered his annual Tisha b’Av tear-stained commentary on the Kinot, the elegies of the day, an audience of thousands tuned in on the OU website, www.ou.org, all over North America, in Israel, and in a dazzling variety of countries, thousands of miles from the synagogue which played host to the event, Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, NJ.
They tuned in from states with large Jewish communities such as New York and New Jersey, and from states with small Jewish communities such as Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Arkansas, Alabama and Maine. Internationally they watched in France, the United Kingdom, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Mexico, the Czech Republic, Germany, Chile, Uruguay, Turkey, Argentina, the Netherlands, Belgium, Malta, Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia, Taiwan, New Zealand and South Africa. The U.S. possession, Puerto Rico, also provided an audience.
Rabbi Weinreb’s commentaries, always replete with the highest level of Jewish learning and with much knowledge from the secular world as well – this year there were references to Mozart, Kafka, and the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, about Lincoln’s war cabinet – not surprisingly were deeply affected by Israel’s current war against Hezbollah and Hamas. The Rabbi traced the ages-old enmity of the descendants of Ishmael – “our cousins” as he called them -- for the Jewish people and for Israel, with the most recent example being the tragedy taking place this Tisha B’Av.
With his voice breaking with emotion, he eulogized Lt. Colonel Ro’i Klein, of the Israel Defense Forces – young and brilliant, a devoted Jew, a decorated soldier, a husband and father – who died when he threw himself on a grenade to save the lives of his companions in combat.
Even as the litany of Jewish tragedy was recited – the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the Holocaust – the current war was never far from Rabbi Weinreb’s thinking nor from the minds of the men and women making up a full house at the synagogue, or, surely, from his audience around the globe.
Yet there were plentiful words of consolation and comfort as well, with references to Shabbat Nachamu, following almost immediately upon the completion of Tisha B’Av, in which the prophet Isaiah declares, “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people.”
The webcast is intended in great part for people who cannot get to synagogue on Tisha B’Av because of other commitments; mothers of young children are particular examples. A mother from Passaic, NJ emailed Rabbi Weinreb after the webcast as follows:
“I would like to thank Rabbi Dr. Weinreb and the OU for the live webcast of the Kinot,” she stated. “In an earlier time I wrote that it was great to have the program for mothers with smaller kids. Now my children are older and I prefer to hear Rabbi Weinreb over going to shul. Rabbi Weinreb is so inspiring; otherwise, we would just mumble some Kinot without understanding them. It makes Tisha B’Av so much more meaningful. Let us pray that we will hopefully celebrate very soon the ultimate geulah (redemption).”