October 17, 2019

Kinah for Tisha b’Av 5779

We ask Eikhah? We ask how and why and by whom?

For the children who cannot understand why their parents won’t come in the night when they call.

For the children who have stopped calling.

For the woman who sleeps in bloodstained underwear because there are no tampons.

For the woman whose husband promised to kill her and the police asked what she had done to provoke him and they laughed and here she is, searching for safety and told she does not merit asylum.

For the woman who was told all her life that she was a boy and then a man and her best friend was left in the street torn by knives and by flesh and here she was locked up without the medicine she needed and now she is dead.

For the boy who was told that it would happen to his sister unless he did it to someone else and now he is here and does not know where his sister is.

For the man who has raised his sisters and brothers since he was 14 and death squads took his parents and now he is under armed guard in the country that trained and armed the death squads.

We cry for Rabbi Shmuel and Rabbi Yehiel of Cologne who refused the Crusader’s baptism and so they exchanged an embrace and holy kiss and threw themselves into the Rhine L’Kidush HaShem, for the sake of The Name.

And we cry for the lovers who joined a caravan of hope, riding north to attain the right to marry only to be told asylum is not for them.

We cry for the mothers of old Jerusalem who watched their children wither, sucking futilely at a breast turned to an empty sack and no food, so hungry they were tempted to eat a child’s corpse.

And we cry for the mothers who scraped tools and hands against a poisoned earth turned barren so they brought their children over land and river to where there is food in season and out of it and now their children are taken, to where they do not know.

We cry for the butchered of Cordoba and Seville where streets were stained with the blood of murdered Jews.

And we cry for the girl who ran for her freedom because she had torn a rapist’s seed from her belly and now is called criminal.

We abstain from food and remember those from whom food is kept.

We abstain from water if we can and remember those who must choose between thirst and washing.

We cry today until we too are parched and empty.

We cry until despair and cynicism and immobilizing fear are washed away.

Source of Mercy and Justice, we pray for strength

So that tomorrow we rise and we witness and we act until the last prisoner is free, the last fence torn down.

Rabbi Robin Podolsky teaches at Cal State Long Beach, writes for Shondaland and blogs.