A custom among many Shilo families on the 9th of Av is to read “Eicha” (Lamentations) at the site of the Ancient city of Shilo, which is in the community boundaries. The families gather at nightfall and pray Ma’ariv (Evening Prayer) and then read “Eicha” lit by either candles or flashlight.
Last night as I looked around at the families gathered, I couldn’t help but see our history before my eyes. Here we were at Ancient Shilo, the first capital of Israel, where Joshua set up the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Above us the lights of modern day Shilo, and surrounding us, the other Jewish communities of the Shilo Bloc. This alone spanned over 3000 years of our history, from the start of our presence in the Land of Israel till today. I looked at the faces, while gripped with mourning for what was, I saw the strength of those who have rebuilt and continue to build our people, our land. The faces are those of Jews from all over the world, the Kippahs are those from all over the spectrum, the customs come from the four corners of the earth, the hearts are those of one.
It was truly uplifting to be part of this, despite it being the 9th of Av. One of the reasons we do not recite Tachnun (supplications), on this day is because this day will become one of joy (Gd willing in the near future), and seeing this strength, this future brought a smile to my face. My family and I had just landed the night before from a trip to the US where we spoke to and met with different communities. We found many to be distraught regarding Israel and the treatment we are receiving from the US administration, worse was the rampant lack of knowledge and understanding of the communities in Judea and Samaria and how integral they are to the entire State of Israel, and to the Jewish people. It was saddening to hear one of my children remark at one of the speaking events, that he doesn’t understand why the Jews don’t care more about Judea and Samaria. Thank Gd we found many that do, and many more that want to hear and learn more.
However, over all, seeing the lack of connection, the lack of involvement truly set the mood for the 9th of Av. In this time of relentless attacks on the Jewish State, regardless of law or justice, we can get a feeling of what occurred so many years ago. The self hatred of our own people towards the land and people living in Israel, the financial support that is given to our enemies by so called allies and “Human Rights” groups is not going to weaken us, it will have a boomerang effect. More and more people in the world are waking to the tyranny of Washington and the hypocrisy of the present Peace process. We will continue to have enemies in this world, like everybody else, it is our unity or lack of which determines how strong they will be. It is how we chose to be involved that will set the pace.
As I gaze into the future, the faces of the present families surrounding me at the site of our ancient city of Shilo, I know that we will endure. I see our people slowly coming together again throughout my travels. They look for strength and integrity and they will find it again from where it all began, in the land of Israel, in a region of our country called Yehuda and Shomron.