Your Next Sunday Tisha B’Av Blues
When is Tisha B’Av 2019? Sunday, August 11th
For all you emo, melancholy, and blues music lovers out there, there is a Jewish holiday that may be right up your alley. The holiday of Tisha B’Av, named after Hebrew date for the 9th of month of Av, is August 11th 2019. A quick google search of Tisha B’Av will show you that this is a terrible and sad day for the Jewish people. One non-traditional practice I’ll be taking on this year leading into this next Sunday blues, is with The Blues.
This Thursday night I will be finding a late show at one of my favorite venues at Dorian’s in Wicker Park leading up to this weekend when the Tisha B’Av is celebrated. Learn more about the Tisha B’Av Blues from Rabbi Jeff Stombaugh of Mishkan.
The Sad (but true) History
Historically, countless devastating events occurred on this day to the Jewish people on a grand scale. Beginning with the holidays’ primary commemorative event: the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem. We also remember the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492 on this same day. Lastly, this date marks the formal approval of “The Final Solution” in Berlin by the Nazis. Whereas many Jewish holidays are described in jest with the phrase: “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat,” Tisha B’Av could very seriously be described with:
they killed us, got away with it, let’s hold some important spiritual and emotional space to be sad in community.
This is the essence of Tisha B’Av: a day of being sad and in mourning together. It is supposed to suck, and the even sadder truth is that our society is regularly ill equipped to handle, manage, and hold space for this level of grief.
The Experience of Tragedy in Judaism
When tragedy happens that touches everyone, like the shootings in Dayton and El Paso this past weekend, or the 25 other mass shootings in America since Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, vigils tend to hold the space for our collective grief. Quickly afterwards, we step back into the toxic swirl of anger, hatred, and blame across platforms and screens that we cannot pull away from. This is our tragic cycle over and over, again and again. Tisha B’Av is not a solve for this cycle, but it is an opportunity to come together to be sad about the daily cruelties and indignities our society enacts upon itself.
The Jewish tradition provides many ritual technologies for experiencing the painful feelings of collective loss, grief, anger, agony, and loneliness. They range from fasting, to listening to the aching sounds the book of Lamentations being chanted (Check out this link for a quick list of other traditional customs).
The Blues and Tisha B’Av
The Blues is a unique musical style that harnesses the aches, pains, and cries of a tragic and painful story, and also may feel like a slightly lower barrier to entry than going to a Jewish space, sitting on the floor, talking about pain and grief, and listening to ancient haunting Hebrew melodies.
Chicago is a mecca for different venues and stages to immerse yourself in this genre of music rooted in a long and dark chapter of American history. Going out to listen to this music with an ear intentionally tuned to the pains in our society and the historical aches of the Jewish people I know will be especially meaningful.
We find ourselves in a week where coming together to sit and feel the grief and pain of our world makes sense, for our generations and past generations. Whether or not you find yourself in Jewish community or not to make this practice, know that the greater Chicagoland Jewish community loves you and is here to hold space if and as you need.
Join Rabbi Jeff at Mishkan Chicago on the evening of August 10th for Tisha B’Av. For more info on that, click here.
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