Earlier this week the Jewish people observed Tisha B’Av, the day of communal mourning for the many periods of destruction and losses of our collective past. This year the day was especially poignant as we watched our Homeland engaged in a fight for the safety of its citizens as well as citizens fighting for their survival across the globe.
This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Nachamu – the Shabbat of Comfort. Its haftarah from the Book of Isaiah We are to be models for our children so they will learn how to live and go about daily routines.offers words of consolation to the Jewish people after their period of collective mourning. Some years it is easy to see Tisha B’Av as a period of remembering and commemorating past losses. This year is not one of those times. Instead of being comforted, we live with the daily pain and fears that the news brings.
Yet, no one can go through day to day life in constant fear. Israelis remind us of that as they continue to go to work, the beach and cafes. To the best that they can, they continue the routines of their lives, even as they reach out to care for those who are most in harms’ way.
We can learn much from them, and from the first paragraph of the Sh’ma that is contained in this week’s parsha, V’etchanan. Routines bring comfort. As we read the words of the Sh’ma each day we are reminded to engage in the rituals of daily life; to go out beyond our gates into the community and to sleep and wake each day. We must, we are taught, go out and seek ways to be Torah – to reach out and help those in need. We are to be models for our children so they will learn how to live a life that matters.
May we find the strength to make a difference, finding comfort in our routines and in our community. May join hands with others to make this world a better place. And, may there come a time soon when humankind learns to live in peace so that Shabbat Nachamu serves to offer comfort for memories of loss long in the past.
Prior to her position with the Grinspoon Foundation, Iris served as a synagogue educator in Syracuse NY, the Central New York PJ Library Program Coordinator and as a national consultant for PJ Library.
Iris holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, a master’s degree in Special Education and Reading, and Advanced Certification in School Leadership and Administration. Her experience as a secular educator and educational leader in congregational and community settings spans over 20 years. She is also a lay leader in Jewish organizations on the local and national levels. Iris served as the President of CAJE – the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, which was the largest member organization for Jewish educators in the country.