FOOD FOR THOUGHT ON A FAST DAY: RABBIS WEINREB AND WEIL RETURN WITH OU TISHA B’AV WEBCASTS FOR ANOTHER YEAR; FOR FIRST TIME, RABBI WEINREB’S LECTURE WILL ORIGINATE IN ISRAEL
Rabbi Steven Weil, OU Executive Vice President
Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, OU Executive Vice President, Emeritus
The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz is past, the Three Weeks are upon us, and OU Executive Vice President Emeritus Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb and Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil are in the final stages of preparation of their annual Tisha B’Av webcasts, a tradition around the world for people who cannot get to the synagogue for family or work reasons, or who want to supplement their recitation of the Kinot (elegies) of the mournful day with brilliant commentary from the Orthodox Union leaders.
Tisha B’Av this year falls on Sunday, July 29.
For the first time this year, Rabbi Weinreb’s webcast will originate from Israel, with the location being the OU’s Seymour J. Abrams Jerusalem World Center. Rabbi Weil’s presentation will take place at the Boca Raton Synagogue in Florida, as it did last year. For Rabbi Weinreb, this will be his 24th consecutive Tisha B’Av program, 11 under the auspices of the OU. For Rabbi Weil it will be his fourth, with the first two originating from Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, where he was Senior Rabbi before assuming his position at the OU.
Rabbi Weinreb’s theme will be “Woe to the Children,” emphasizing the Jewish youth slaughtered during the Holocaust and other tragic times in Jewish history. Rabbi Weil will address “Grappling with Destruction.” Both rabbis will draw on a wide variety of sources, old and new, religious and secular, to enrich their commentary. The sources will be posted on the OU website, www.ou.org, prior to Tisha B’Av.
Rabbi Weinreb’s presentation will be webcast from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Israel time, meaning 2:00-6:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time for those watching it live. It will be replayed beginning at 9:00 a.m. Rabbi Weil will give his presentation beginning at 9:00 a.m., and it will be shown on the website for four hours or more immediately following the conclusion of the Jerusalem webcast. Technical arrangements are being handled from New York by Dan Jeselsohn, the OU’s Senior Engineer, Digital and Streaming Media.
“Several of us, including myself, have been lobbying for doing the webcast from Israel for quite some time,” explained Rabbi Weinreb. “Things finally worked out so that we all agreed to give it a try, especially since I am in Israel in any case.”
Being in Jerusalem, of course, has special meaning on Tisha B’Av, as Rabbi Weinreb makes clear. “There is no more appropriate place to commemorate Tisha B’Av than Jerusalem. Knowing that we mourn events that occurred on or very near to the ground upon which we sit as we recite the Kinot, gives the entire experience a powerful and poignant dimension. At the same time, it is encouraging and consoling to sit in the midst of a rebuilt Jerusalem, and to see the consolations of the Prophets in the process of their fulfillment.”
Rabbi Weil previewed his webcast, commenting, “We’re going to relive and re-experience the various tragedies throughout Jewish history through the words and ideas of the Kinot, supplemented by materials from throughout Jewish history.”
Rabbi Weil is no stranger to the Boca Raton Synagogue, and has spoken there many times in the past. Rabbi Philip Moskowitz, Assistant Rabbi at the shul, said: “Rabbi Weil’s engaging presentations never fail to capture the imagination and interest of his audience. His use of Jewish history and philosophy bring the emotions and relevance of the day to life and his insightful and inspirational words all but guarantee an unparalleled Tisha B’Av experience.”
In addition to the webcasts, the OU and Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future have prepared a video, “Making Tisha B’Av Relevant to Us Today,” which has been sent to synagogues around North America and around the world. It features Rabbi Steven Burg, OU Managing Director, as well as Rabbis Weil and Weinreb and Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, NCSY Director of Education, representing the OU; and Rabbis Mordechai Willig and Kenneth Brander; Dr. David Pelcovitz and Mrs. Nechama Price, representing Yeshiva University.
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.
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