How Natanya's Pen Pal Became Homeless on Tisha B'Av


As a young child in school, I remember being taught about Tisha B'Av, as the day that both temples were destroyed.

As I grew, I learned that more sad things happened on that day.  While the Jews were in the desert, on the doorstep of Israel, they complained about not wanting the holy land.  G-d responded with a decree that they would wander for 40 years in the desert, until that complete generation died.  This too happened on Tisha B'Av.

Of course, the first Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians on that day.  About 500 years later, the second Temple was destroyed by the Romans on the same day.  The ruins of the outer wall of that temple are what people call "The Western Wall." 

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  In that same year, Queen Isabella of Spain expelled all Jews who refused to convert from her country.  Which day did that happen?  You guessed it. 

On August 1, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia.  This was the beginning of WWI, WWII and the Holocaust (which were a continuation of WWI).  What do you think was the Jewish date of August 1 that year?  Correct. 

I wasn't a bad student, so I got the point:  "Tisha B'Av is not a good day for the Jewish people."  

And then 2005 happened.  I was in Yeshiva in LA for the summer, and a heated debate was raging, about whether Israel should disengage from the Gaza strip.  The thing that hit me over the head like a baseball bat is the day Israel chose to seal off the strip, and begin expelling all Jews.  On August 14, Tisha B'Av 2005, was the beginning of the most recent expulsion of Jews. 

I didn't really understand what was happening at the time, but was sickened by the  pictures of Jewish soldiers dragging out Jews, just like was done 65 years prior.  Within weeks, Hamas was shooting rockets into Israel from the synagogues just vacated.  Within months, the Israeli Prime Minister who championed the "disengagement"  had a stroke and became a vegetable, and ever since then, how many of those Jewish soldiers involved committed suicide and had mental breakdowns over their guilty conscience, having made 10,000 Jews homeless?  One of those Jews to become homeless was Shifra Shomron, author of Grains of Sand and Natanya's pen pal for many years.

This is when I understood what Tisha B'Av is. 

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