Friends — as we reach the end of July of this strange, unreal feeling year, I am experiencing with renewed force the power of the Jewish holiday known as Tisha B’ Av. Tisha B’Av commemorates the fall of Jerusalem Temples 1 and 2, but in a larger sense, it commemorates the totality of Jewish catastrophes. It also marks the moment when Jews become refugees and immigrants.
We seem to be LIVING Tisha B’Av on a number of levels in the United States. Where amongst the ruins, do we look for ways to rebuild and to rebuild differently? How do we re-learn to welcome and treasure the stranger who comes to our shores from far-away or from nearby? How do we re-learn to welcome and treasure each other? These are a few of the many ongoing questions.
At the same time, this is summer, and the days are warm and plants are growing in most places. It is a luscious time of year, particularly if you are fortunate enough to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
How do we mourn and celebrate? reckon with and grow from?
I don’t know. I guess, we just do.
My orthodox Jewish sister in law turned 60 this past Sunday and I wrote a poem for her. I like the poem, but it doesn’t entirely capture the weird state of mind I’m in these days. So instead of the poem, I’m posting a spoken word video experiment I generated last week when the poet George Hammons challenged a bunch of us to try to make a video poem.
I couldn’t make a poem like that. What I could do was think about the incredible spoken word performance videos done by my friend Rich Ferguson. I improvised something that links my love of German language with a strange discovery I made about my own past and the lingering issue of “german-ness” as it pertains to the current president and the current situation we find ourselves in.
Here’s my little experiment, slightly garbled in spots near the beginning.