OU’S TISHA B’AV PROGRAMMING SET TO ARRIVE AT SHULS AS THREE WEEKS BEGINS JULY 19; RABBIS WEIL AND WEINREB READY THEIR WEBCASTS; MATERIALS TO INCLUDE SPECIAL PRESENTATION FOR TEENS AND POWERPOINT EICHAH FOR DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING
If it is summer, Tisha B’Av must inevitably be coming, and if Tisha B’Av is coming, the Orthodox Union is ready with educational materials for The Three Weeks and The Nine Days leading up to the fast day, and for Tisha B’Av itself. The theme of this year’s presentations is “Tears of Faith…Visions of Hope.”
Tisha B’Av, which will be observed on Tuesday, August 9, will once again feature a complete day of webcasts of commentary on the kinot – the day’s elegies – by OU Executive Vice President, Emeritus, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb and by OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil. Both will be seen worldwide on www.ou.org, starting at 9:00 a.m EDT from OU Headquarters in New York with Rabbi Weinreb, and continuing at 1:00 p.m. from The Boca Raton Synagogue in Florida with Rabbi Weil. Audiences may pre-register at www.ou.org/tishabav.
The OU’s Tisha B’Av webcast has become a tradition in Jewish communities around the globe, enabling those who are unable to attend synagogue that day because of work or family responsibilities – or those who must leave early – to observe Tisha B’Av with its full significance while attending to other responsibilities. The presentations focus on the kinot, providing a unique interpretation based on religious and secular sources. Rabbi Weinreb will be giving his 23rd annual shiur, his tenth under OU auspices. Rabbi Weil is building his own tradition, which began at Congregation Beth Jacob in Beverly Hills and is now in its third OU presentation.
Viewers are encouraged to use as their prayer book The Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, the complete Tisha B’Av service, with profound commentary on the elegies by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and an exciting new translation by Rabbi Weinreb. The book, edited by Rabbi Simon Posner, was published a year ago by OU Press | Jewish Educational Publications/Koren Publishers to critical acclaim and quickly sold out in Judaica stores.
In addition to the webcast, the OU has prepared two DVD’s with shiurim and presentations that can be screened at local synagogues beginning with the Fast of Tammuz, on Tuesday, July 19. The DVD’s have been sent to OU member synagogues throughout North America and to the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem, with a poster. The DVD also contains a special presentation for teenagers by Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Regional Director of New Jersey NCSY | Jewish Youth Leadership.
For the first time, the material includes a PowerPoint presentation of Megillat Eichah (Lamentations) developed by Our Way/National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), the OU’s program for inclusion of people with disabilities; the presentation affords an opportunity for a uniform following of Eichah by the entire congregation, specifically for the deaf and hard of hearing. The entire set of materials has been put together for use in synagogues and other communal settings, such as camps.
Judah Isaacs, OU Director of Community Engagement, who along with Frank Buchweitz, OU National Director of Community Services and Special Projects, is coordinating the Tisha B’Av program, declared: “As part of the OU’s continuing efforts to support our synagogues, we are proud to enable our shuls to open their doors to those with disabilities, and to make them feel welcome. We are encouraging our synagogues to publicize that they will be showing the PowerPoint and welcoming everyone to the reading of Megillat Eichah. We look forward to making more of Our Way’s PowerPoint presentations available to our congregations in the future.”
Shuirim by Rabbis Weil and Weinreb:
The first DVD contains shiurim by Rabbis Weil and Weinreb, to set the atmosphere for the entire Three Weeks and for the more intensive mourning that follows during the Nine Days and on Tisha B’Av itself. Rabbi Weil presents an overview of the historical events of the year 1096 in the months of Iyar and Sivan. He discusses the historical significance of the period of Sefirat HaOmer, beginning with the tragic death of the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva. Their death represented the loss of those who transmitted the mesorah and set the historical stage for sacrifices of both communities and individuals who died Al Kiddush HaShem. Rabbi Weil cites Tisha B’Av as a national day of mourning for all Jewish tragedies, devastations, and loss of communities; commemorating the destruction of Asheknaz Jewry; all stemming from the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash.
Rabbi Weinreb notes that in addition to mourning the first and second Beit HaMikdash on Tisha B’Av, we also mourn and recall a number of tragedies in our history, most recently, the Holocaust. Rabbi Weinreb refers to special kinot that were written on the occasion of this terrible catastrophe and mentions the discussions that have taken place over time with respect to whether to develop a separate day of mourning for the Holocaust or to incorporate aspects of the Holocaust into Tisha B’Av. Was the Holocaust just another pogrom, one event in a chain of unending events of tragedy that have confronted us?
The second disk includes a presentation by Rabbi Aharon Kahn, Rav of Bais Keneses Avigdor in Brooklyn and Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. Rabbi Kahn stresses the vast difference between the galut experience of the Jewish people and what is anticipated in the times called “the days of Moshiach.” He emphasizes looking forward, waiting, and yearning for the ultimate salvation that will happen in the time of the Moshiach, a time of tranquility, peace and knowledge of God. Such a time cannot exist while the Jews are in exile. We ponder these matters even as we experience a sense of loss on Tisha B’Av. We understand that things are not quite right yet, but that a better day is coming.
Rabbi Glasser’s teen presentation focuses on the day of Tisha B’Av as one of personal introspection and hope. He explains, “We read in the kinot the word ‘eichah,’ which questions HOW... could God forget his people on Tisha B’Av? The opportunity is presented to raise questions to God in light of many challenges that exist in our lives; the internal turmoil and personal situations that may not have answers are asked about on Tisha B’Av. Everyone has Tisha B’Av moments in their lives of struggling with their faith and relationship with God. Things happen that challenge people’s faith and may create doubt in their hearts. That’s why it is important to raise questions rather than casting dispersions and just walking away from God.”
The Our Way PowerPoint presentation uses the same technology as Our Way’s annual PowerPoint Purim Megillah. According to Batya Jacob, Our Way Program Director, “The PowerPoint Eichah presentation was prepared for the goal of inclusion of individuals with various challenges into the commemoration of Tisha B'Av. Developed by Frank Duchoeny of Our Way/NJCD Montreal, this program enables individuals with hearing challenges, visual challenges, ADHD and learning issues as well as the elderly to benefit from this addition to the tefillah in their synagogue. For the first time the software is being included in the OU’s Tisha B’Av CD that is distributed to synagogues throughout the United States and Canada.” Additional CDs can be ordered by contacting her at 212-613-8127 or
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