WELCOME AV 5781
The Hebrew month of Av (July 9 – August 8, 2021) represents quite an emotional journey in Judaism. This summer month features two distinct landmark observances. The Ninth of Av (Tisha B’Av) solemnly recalls the destruction of the historic First and Second Temples, while the Fifteenth of Av (Tu B’Av) celebrates love and destiny. For AJCC Director of Jewish Life & Culture, Dana Schneider-Chanzit, the month of Av recalls an interesting pattern in the Hebrew Calendar. “One thing that I really appreciate about the Jewish tradition is that we value the importance of mourning, and its place in our lives to help us move forward,” she explains. “However, we also understand we should not stay in a place of grief or sadness for too long, as this can prevent us from moving forward. This idea shows up in many places during the Hebrew calendar.”
“For example,” Dana observes, “right after Yom Kippur, our day of atonement, we enter the joyful week-long festival of Sukkot. Another example is at the end of the 49-day period of counting the Omer, a period of semi-mourning between Passover and ending with Shavuot. Shavuot is the holiday where we celebrate the receiving of the 10 commandments. It is one of the most joyful holidays of the year. The same pattern happens in the month of Av, after we have mourned the saddest day of our year, the full moon arrives and we celebrate Tu B’Av, the Jewish Day of love.”
“One thing that I really appreciate about the Jewish tradition is that we value the importance of mourning.“
-Dana Schneider-Chanzit, Director of Jewish Life & Culture
“On Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av, the saddest day in the Hebrew year, we mourn deeply,” Dana explains. “We mourn the destruction of both our holy temples as well as many other painful events in our Jewish history.”
The 9th of Av falls on July 17-18, 2021. Like Yom Kippur, this somber holiday is observed by many as a fasting holiday. Every year, Tisha B’av mourns the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E., and the Second Temple in 70 C.E. Traditional observances include the three weeks of mourning leading up to the date. During this time, celebrations such as weddings are avoided. Cemetery visits are also common.
Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, by Francesco Hayez. Source: Wikipedia
The Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel; all that remains of the Second Temple.
The following week takes a sharp turn, as the 15th of Av (July 23-24, 2021) is met with intense celebration! Tu B’av is the Jewish holiday of love. Many equate this holiday to Valentine’s Day, and it’s said to be a lucky day for weddings.
“During Tu B’Av it is said that women would wear white and dance in the moonlight,” Dana recalls. “It is also a day for matchmaking, weddings, romance, and love. Today in Israel, it is celebrated with evening festivals of music and dancing.” This year, Tu B’Av is especially hopeful as more and more weddings that had to be postponed due to the pandemic finally become realized.
Women dancing on Tu B’Av. Credit: Wikipedia
Ahava (Love) statue in Israel. Credit: WikiPikiIsrael
FROM GRIEF TO JOY
Grief and love are perhaps the two strongest human emotions. For many of us, this year has made these particular feelings more salient than ever. For this reason, the month of Av can prove to be quite a spiritual whirlwind, regardless of the extent to which you observe these holidays.
As Dana puts it, “This year has brought much sadness and grief to our community and to the world. It is important to acknowledge and appreciate this time of morning but it is also important to celebrate love and life.”
This Av, take time to explore emotions you might typically shy away from. If you’re recovering from loss, trauma or stress from the pandemic, allow the journey and liturgy of Av to guide you through healing. “Our hope for you this Av is to feel deeply, and to move from a time of grief to a place of Love and Joy,” Dana says. However you choose to honor Av, the J is here for you.
is the Director of Jewish Life & Culture at the Alpert JCC, specializing in bringing Jewish tradition to our community in fun and contemporary ways. Shabbat singing, holiday crafts, and cultural cooking demos are some of her favorite ways to connect with the community. You can connect with Dana via email at email@example.com, or by tuning in to some of her virtual family events!