‘Round the Clock and ‘Round the World, OU Nine-Day Program, Now in Action

27 Jul 2006


From Palm Springs to Providence, from Vancouver to Toronto, from Cape Town to London and Glasgow, from Israel to Indiana, from Manchester to Minsk, round the clock, 24 hours a day, for 192 hours straight, groups are currently deeply involved in studying the Torah and its commentaries over a nine-day period under an Orthodox Union program to use the spiritual merit of Torah study for the benefit of the people of Israel as they fight a two-front war against terror.

The nine days were not chosen at random. In fact, on the Jewish calendar they are known as “The Nine Days,” of the month of Av, culminating in Tisha B’Av, the ninth of Av, a day of fasting and mourning commemorating the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem and other Jewish tragedies which occurred over the centuries on that same day. This year The Nine Days began Wednesday, July 26 (actually, the previous sundown), and conclude on Thursday, August 3, with the 25-hour fast.

Given that The Nine Days coincide this year with Israel’s war against Hezbollah and Hamas, the OU established its program, with participation of other Jewish organizations, to call for Torah study, with groups signing up on the OU website,www.ou.org, for an hour of their choice – including in the middle of the night. (Torah study does not take place on Tisha B’Av itself, because the joy of learning Torah is not permitted on a day of mourning.) During The Nine Days activities such as music and other enjoyments are not permitted, and meat may not be eaten or liquor consumed (except on the Sabbath).

“We believe that such a major continuous spiritual effort will have a meritorious effect on the welfare of our fellow Jews in Israel at this critical time,” declared OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb. Agreed OU President Stephen J. Savitsky, “We are calling for massive involvement in Torah study, because this is one way in which we feel we can make a difference and demonstrate our concern.”

As Rabbi Weinreb explains, “The Mishnah (part of the Talmud) tells us that the Shechinah – God’s presence – is to be found whenever such a minyan comes together. The OU’s goal is to sign up enough groups to ensure continued 24-hour-a-day learning at least somewhere in the world dedicated to helping the situation in Israel.”

The study groups are currently meeting in synagogues, summer camps and other gatherings of Jews, and have the choice of any topic they want, with educational resources being made available on the OU website, www.ou.org. Given time zones, what is in the middle of the night for some areas is daytime for others, thus making it easier to fill all the slots.

Indeed, the slots are being filled. Here is a partial list of communities that have at least one group participating:

New York: the Boroughs, Long Island, Westchester County, Rochester

New Jersey: Elizabeth, West Orange, Teaneck, Cherry Hill, Passaic

California: Los Angeles, Oakland, Palm Springs

Ohio: Dayton, Columbus

Georgia: Atlanta

Florida: Boca Raton

Michigan: Detroit

Indiana: Indianapolis

Washington: Seattle

Illinois: Chicago

Massachusetts: Boston

Colorado: Denver

Connecticut: New Haven

Nevada: Las Vegas

District of Columbia

Rhode Island: Providence

Illinois: Chicago

Texas: San Antonio, Houston

Canada: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto

Israel: Jerusalem and elsewhere

United Kingdom: London, Manchester, Glasgow

Minsk, Ukraine

Cape Town, South Africa

The OU declares, “In the merit of this learning during this most sensitive time period in our calendar, may the Almighty grant strength to His people and may he bless them with peace.”