Interfaith immigrant-solidarity service at Temple Bet on Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av

newspaperAn interfaith coalition of local houses of worship and other groups are coming together for a special immigrant-solidarity observance of the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av on Sunday, July 22, 3:45 – 5 p.m, outside Temple Beth-El (3330 Grove Ave.).

Tisha B’Av, which begins at sundown on Saturday, July 21 and ends at sundown on Sunday, July 22, is considered the most tragic day of the Jewish calendar, in which Jews traditionally mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, along with other tragedies from Jewish history, and read from the biblical Book of Lamentations.

Sunday’s Tisha B’Av program is part of a national effort: Rabbis and cantors in more than 10 cities throughout the United States will be holding special Tisha B’Av services, vigils and protests, many of them outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, on July 21 and July 22, in solidarity with immigrants and asylum seekers.

All faiths and backgrounds are welcome to attend the service outside Temple Beth-El, which will include sharing stories, singing verses from Lamentations and standing with those impacted by the Trump administration’s draconian immigration policies. Participants are encouraged to wear black or attire that reflects their culture’s mourning practices and to bring signs with messages that express mourning, lament current immigration policy, and demand a turning around of hearts/minds/policies in the spirit of the book of Lamentations’ injunction to go back.

Rabbi Michael Knopf, spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El said, “This year, Tisha B’Av, a holy day that reminds Jewish people that we descend from immigrants and refugees, falls against the backdrop of a moral crisis in our country: Migrant children separated from parents, asylum seekers denied refuge, Muslims refused entry, immigrant communities tormented. According to Jewish tradition, the lesson of Tisha B’Av is that pervasive cruelty and malice within our society leads inexorably to destruction. That’s why we are calling for this interfaith, multicultural service of protest and prayer on Tisha B’Av.”

The immigrant-solidarity Tisha B’Av gatherings around the country this weekend are being organized by members of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. T’ruah has been at the forefront of American Jewish activism for compassionate and just immigration policies that keep families together and do not criminalize immigrants, including organizing a New York rally in June that attracted hundreds of people and was cosponsored by more than 30 other Jewish groups. Many of the Tisha B’Av organizers recently returned from a two-day T’ruah delegation in which they protested Operation Streamline with the Latinx group Mijente in San Diego and then visited migrant shelters in Tijuana with HIAS. (Learn more about that trip here.)

In addition to Richmond, immigrant-solidarity Tisha B’Av services are taking place in such cities as New York City; Newark; suburban Boston; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Philadelphia; and Chicago.

“Tisha B’Av commemorates Jewish national tragedy, tragedy that led to wandering and displacement,” said T’ruah Deputy Director Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster. “On Tisha B’Av, we read the book of Lamentations, which is filled with the gut-wrenching choices that families made in the worst of circumstances. This year, our laments are in solidarity with the laments of immigrants and asylum seekers. But we will not just lament: These vigils and protests will serve as a call to action and for justice.”

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights mobilizes a network of almost 2,000 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism that, together with the Jewish community, act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.

augusta free press

Shop Google


%d bloggers like this: