I can’t say the traditional prayers on Tisha b’Av.
How can I say prayers that talk of “the city laid waste, despised and desolate. In mourning for she is childless, her dwellings laid waste, despised in the downfall of her glory and desolate through the loss of her inhabitants….”?
I live in Jerusalem, the city that was “laid waste.”
It is waste, despised, desolate, childless no more.
Instead it is vibrant, alive, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, Jewish-Christian-Muslim. It is my home.
But it is also divided.
It is also tense.
The “City of Peace” is not at peace.
Rabbis say the city was destroyed once because of the people’s sins and once because of gratuitous hatred.
Historians say the city was destroyed because of geopolitics – and for a tiny country having the chutzpah to confront Rome head on.
My prayer instead:
Ribbono shel haolam, Master of the Universe!
Help us learn the lessons of the past.
Help us avoid the sins of gratuitous hatred and chutzpah.
Help us learn to get along with all of our brothers, sisters, and cousins.
Help us complete the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Help us turn it truly into the “City of Peace.”
May we merit to rebuild our Temple next to their Mosque.
May all of your children feel free to come to Jerusalem to offer prayers to you.
May our prayers suffice with no killing, not even animals, as it says in the psalm: “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
May that time of peace come bimheira v’yameinu, speedily and in our days.