Shuls to observe Tisha B’Av through study, films

Tisha B’Av the ninth day of the month of Av is a day of fasting and mourning to commemorate some of the greatest tragedies to befall the Jewish people, among them the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem and the expulsion from Spain in 1492. But despite this litany of sorrow, many contemporary Jews are left wondering how to connect to these millennia-old tragedies that seemingly have no bearing on their lives. To assist in internalizing the message of this day, synagogues across the region and across the denominations are hosting Tisha B’Av programs on Saturday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 10.

Like most traditional synagogues, the Westwood Kehilla will read the book of Eicha (Lamentations) on Saturday night, followed by a talk about striving for the final redemption. The Kehilla, an Orthodox synagogue, and the Los Angeles Intercommunity Kollel (LINK) follow their long-standing annual tradition of hosting a full day of programming. After morning services on Sunday, the congregation will join in reciting and analyzing the Kinot, elegies that bemoan tragedies including the Crusades, pogroms and the Holocaust. After an ease-the-fast nap break, “Leaving Envy Behind,” a two-part video, will explore the importance of being worthy of a final redemption and feeling true love for fellow Jews. The day will conclude with a lecture and a light break-the-fast.

Many congregations use Tisha B’Av as an opportunity to offer joint programming with other synagogues, sending an important message about ahavat Yisrael, loving your fellow Jews a central theme of Tisha B’Av. Adat Ari El in Valley Village and Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) in Encino, both Conservative synagogues, will engage their congregants in a joint community study, discussion and reading of Lamentations, lead by Rabbi Elianna Yolkut (Adat Ari El) and Rabbi Ed Feinstein (VBS) at Adat Ari El on Saturday night. Morning and afternoon services will commence the following day at each temple.

Young Israel of Century City (YICC) and B’nai David-Judea, two Orthodox synagogues in the Pico-Robertson area, are joining for services at YICC. The eve of Tisha B’av will include the reading of Eicha at 9 p.m. on Saturday, and on Sunday, the reading of Kinot and learning will begin at 8:30 a.m., led by Rabbis Elazar Muskin, Nachum Braverman, Ari Leubitz and Jason Weiner. Following the recitation of Kinot, a video from the Chofetz Chaim Foundation will be shown at 11:45 a.m.

IKAR and Shteibl Minyan, both on the Westside, are also joining forces at the Workmen’s Circle on Saturday at 9 p.m. (bring cushions for sitting on the floor).

Shomrei Torah Synagogue and Temple Aliyah, both in the West Valley, continue their tradition of a joint program, held this year at Shomrei Torah on Saturday night. At University Synagogue of Brentwood, a Reform congregation, Rabbi Morley Feinstein and Cantor Jay Frailich will provide a lesson and prayer on “Jerusalem, Then and Now” at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

If Lamentations and elegies just won’t hit home for you, JconnectLA will be showing the film “I Have Never Forgotten You,” a documentary on the life of Nazi-hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, narrated by Academy award-winner Nicole Kidman, at 12:30 p.m. at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

For teens, the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) runs a program at Shaarei Tzedek in North Hollywood from 9:30-11:30 p.m. on Aug 9. Solly Hess, the Los Angeles director for NCSY, and Derek Gorman, the director of education for the Jewish Student Union, will show video clips and speak about the importance of having a profound connection to the land of Israel. “The idea is for the kids to feel a loyalty to Israel and really understand why we should feel so upset on Tisha B’av,” Hess said.

This year, Tisha B’Av begins at 7:49 p.m. on Aug 9. The fast ends at 8:30 p.m. on Aug 10. The rabbinical prohibitions on Tisha B’Av include: no eating or drinking, no wearing leather shoes, no bathing, no application of ointments or lotions, and no sexual relations.

Tisha B’Av guide: