In more recent times, liberal Jews have also added contemporary worries and sorrows including genocide, climate change and the growing income gap that has led to deepening poverty for so many around the world.
Tomorrow night, my Sweetie and our friends will gather in a synagogue and listen as Eicha -- Jeremiah's prophecy about the future dark days for the Israelites -- is chanted. They will consider the ills of our modern age. And they will weep.
I will not join them. I am getting over what is very likely a viral infection, and so it's better for me to play it safe and stay home.
Therefore, I'll have to come up with my own, very personal way of observing Tisha B'Av. It won't include a fast, since I need to stay hydrated and help the infection move through and out of my body. But it will include sitting quietly on the floor and pondering the ills of the world we live in today, and allowing myself to really feel the sorrow of being unable to fix them all in my lifetime.
Inspired by a musical experience I had about ten years ago, on a day which Tisha B"Av occurred but I did not formally observe it, and more recently by discussion with some of my Song Leader Boot Camp friends, I've compiled my own playlist of music to listen to during this time tomorrow night.
1. Irma Thomas: "I Think It's Going To Rain Today"
2. June Tabor: "Mayn Rue Platz"
3. The Shondes: "I Watched the Temple Fall" (lyrics)
4. Godheadsilo: "You Must Pay" (Warning! Play at a lower volume. This recording has been known to destroy speakers -- and ears.)
5. Rabbi David Krasner: "Eicha (Lamentations) Chapter 1"
6. Kansas: "Dust In The Wind"
7. Joey Weisenberg and Hadar Ensemble: "By The Waters of Babylon"
There are probably other choices, but this will give me enough of an arc to sit and ponder the sorry state of the world in.
If you are stuck at home or otherwise isolated from a Jewish community tomorrow night, I invite you to consider your own playlist. See how the music moves you, implores you to let go and just feel the weight of history and of the world, and how it inspires you to think beyond yourself.