In our July encounter we spoke about the 9th of Av (according to the Hebrew calendar), the saddest day of the year for Jews. According to the tradition, both the first and second Temples were destroyed on this day. In addition, many other tragedies happened to the Jewish nation around this day.
The 9th of Av is a fasting day and there are rules that help us feel in mourning. It is not allowed to sit on a chair (people sit on the floor), to greet each other, to wear leather shoes, and even to study Torah because it makes one happy. There is a custom to read "Kinot" (sad poems, describing difficult times in Jewish history) in the morning of the 9th of Av. Some people read sad books or watch sad films, like films about the Shoa.
It is very important to do things that make us feel that we lack something – as individuals and as a society. Our goal is to feel the absence so that we wish to build a better society during the rest of the year. Therefore it is very important to imagine a better future and hope and expect that it is possible to repair. If we pass the fast without hope, we didn't do what is required from us.
It is said that the Messiah will be born on the 9th of Av, so within the sorrow there are seeds of hope.
After the explanation on the 9th of Av, rose the question of the Temple's location. This led to an interesting conversation about the future and how can we live together in peace if we quarrel over the same place. We also spoke about a wider question – should we discuss political issues in our encounters. People had different views.
We also spoke about those who are "observant" in our communities and what does that entail regarding going up to the Temple Mount and fasting.
In our group we have people who observe the rules of religion and people who don't.
The group continues to grow and we had 20 people. We had new members, including an 8-year old boy from Male Adumim who connected with a 22-year old guy from Azariya.
We had a very interesting encounter - each person spoke for about 5 minutes on the meaning of their name. We took name tags and wrote our names in Hebrew and Arabic. We also welcomed a new Jewish member, Arlene.