Entering the month of Av

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Chodesh tov: a blessed new month to you!

Today we enter into the lunar month of Av. During Av, we experience the low point of the Jewish liturgical year — and some sweet high points, too.

For members of our Rosh Chodesh group, there is a nondairy potluck lunch at CBI today at noon (bring a salad of some kind to share) — we’ll ring in the new month with a lunch-and-learn focusing on some of the unique spiritual gifts of the month of Av.

Next Monday night and Tuesday (July 14-15) we’ll observe Tisha b’Av, the 9th of Av. On this day we remember the fallen Temples and the brokenness of creation. It is traditional to fast from the sundown beginning the 9th of Av (next Monday night) through the sundown marking the end of the 9th of Av (next Tuesday night.)

This year at CBI we’ll observe Tisha b’Av both with an 8pm service on the night of July 14 (featuring Lamentations, poetry, and a guided meditation) and a 3pm study session in the afternoon on July 15 (featuring texts relating to Tisha b’Av, to communal cohesion, and to the spiritual impact of fasting.) We’re inviting the folks at Beth El in Bennington to join us for both of these as well.

This year, our month of Av overlaps with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (The Muslim sacred calendar, like ours, is lunar; but we have a system of “leap months” in seven out of every nineteen years, to keep our fall festivals in the fall and our spring festivals in the spring. They don’t have that system, so their holidays move around the secular calendar. This year, the month of Ramadan overlaps with our month of Av.) We’ll learn a bit more about that, and about how our two traditions understanding fasting, at our Tisha b’Av study session.

One week after Tisha b’Av comes Tu b’Av, the 15th of Av, which was once a great festival of romance and dancing — a kind of corrective to the solemnity of Tisha b’Av. Stay tuned for more on that.

Wishing all of y’all a meaningful passage through this month!

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel

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