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I've been working on a diary that was originally written for my congregation's monthly news letter. The article discusses the upcoming observance of Tisha B'Av, an annual fast day that commemorats the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem. Observing Tisha B'Av is meant to connect us to grief and loss as we read from the Book of Lamentations that tells the tragedy of Jerusalem's destruction. The article connects the observance of Tisha B'Av with water, in both a real and metaphorical context.

During the hottest months of summer, when Israel is consumed with dry winds and the land is parched, we pause for Tisha B’Av, and weep not only for the burning of the temples, but also for the burning of the Earth. This time of mourning is ripe with meaning and symbolism, for in the Middle East, the heavens withhold the rain and the Earth hasn’t the continued life source to replenish and provide.

Water has long been a concern within the Jewish tradition because of the situation within the land of Israel. This remains a concern in the modern state of Israel as well. Lying within the Negev Mountains and the Ramon Crater is the largest nature preserve in Israel, the Mitzpe Ramon Nature Preserve. Its story is told by the unique animals and plants that live without water during the summer months, the ‘salt brush,’ is one example. The salt brush is a shrub with an extensive and deep root system that extracts moisture and nutrients from the soil during periods of drought. The Talmud refers to it as the ‘food of the poor’ as it provided sustenance for shepherds.



The article was written to invite congregation members to our special Tisha B'Av service that includes a Water Conservation Panel. One of the panelists is the Chair of our water district's Environmental Advisory Committee and will  be discussing water conservation efforts in our county. Also presenting is the author of the book, RIPE, who will talk about edible gardens that thrive in our specific eco system. A third panelist will talk about ways to conserve water in our homes.

I'm looking forward to this special service and discussion. But, I haven't been able to complete the diary originally entitled, "Waterless." In the words of a young patient of mine, "I'm blocked, and I don't know why, but I think when I feel compelled to pick up my pencil again, maybe the block will have gone away." I do feel compelled to pick up my pencil, or in this case, run my fingers on the key board, but I can't continue to write about water conservation any longer. This diary is about the spiritual conflict inherent in this text, which you may recall from my diary last week:

In Jewish tradition, we emphasize the sanctity and primary value of human life. In fact, the Talmud teaches us, “He who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe.”
As I cannot help but link it to
This time of mourning is ripe with meaning and symbolism, for in the Middle East, the heavens withhold the rain and the Earth hasn’t the continued life source to replenish and provide.
Yes, this time of mourning is ripe with meaning and symbolism as we mourn for the families killed by incessant bombardment of shells firing in a dry land where there is no safe place.

My spiritual conflict lies here. How do I continue to embrace my connection to Israel, the one that is said to be divinely given to me, when I abhor Israel's actions? While the land of Israel is indeed burning because of drought during the hot summer months, the soul of Israel burns too. I weep not only for the burning of the temples, I weep for the meaning these words once conveyed, but are now buried in the rubble of Gaza.  

In Jewish tradition, we emphasize the sanctity and primary value of human life. In fact, the Talmud teaches us, “He who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe.”
I weep because I have always believed that Israel is our "promised land," as it was taught to me, as God had said. We teach our children the stories of the Bible, but we don't actually believe the world was created in 7 days. We believe in evolution. We make a distinction between stories that teach us morals and values of daily living with real, honest to goodness dirt in my eye life. Yet, Israel continues to fight for a "divine" right.

Which world are we in, imagined or real?

Yes, people hate Jews. And people hate Gays and Native Americans and Honduran children, and on and on. Where does the hate get us? This is where: In the name of a 'divine' right to own a piece of land that is said to be first inhabited by them, Israel is killing children of an Ethnic group of people whom some Jews believe want to kill all Jews.

Mother Earth also weeps because she is caught in this tug of war.

This may be what Israel is doing, but they are not doing it in my name. This is not my Israel. This is not the Israel I want my daughter to visit and know, and not the Israel to which I want any "right" to.

I don't pray very often, maybe a few times during a particularly dark period in my life. I've no evidence of what prayer will bring, except maybe self soothing from time to time. And I need soothing now because I can't prevent the tears from filling my eyes as I read more and more about the bombings and chaos. I can't not read about it because to do so would be to avoid the reality that children and their mothers and fathers are dying... that Israel is lost. To avoid this would be to deny that these lives had meaning and were worth saving. So, in observance of Tisha B'Av, I'll mourn for the promise of what Israel is supposed to be, and for the lives caught in the cross fire between Israel and Hamas that have become symbolic of what some might call their never ending quest for peace.




Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate. Readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.

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