SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Members and clergy of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange took part in a regional observance of the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning, on Sunday, Aug. 11. The event, at the Peter Rodino Federal Building on Broad Street in Newark, was attended by representatives of a dozen other regional synagogues and Jewish institutional partners. It brought attendees together in prayer and protest of the detention of immigrants by the U.S. federal government. More than 200 people attended the rally, including 12 from TSTI.
TSTI’s Cantor Rebecca Moses, and rabbis and cantors from the region, read from the Book of Lamentations — the traditional biblical text for Tisha B’Av — as well as the words of children held in detention centers; the clergy members also shared reflections on the commandments in the Torah about sheltering the refugee.
“Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, marks the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and other calamities that befell the Jewish people,” Moses said. “It also spurs us, as agents of social justice, to respond to the calamities of others. Given our people’s own history among other nations, we can never forget the commandments to love the stranger as ourselves and to care for those in our midst.”
TSTI President Max Weisenfeld said the synagogue’s Facebook post about the rally received a tremendous amount of engagement in the first 24 hours.
“Given all the recent news events and ensuing outrage in the community, we were honored to participate in this important event and have our voices heard in support of those being detained,” Weisenfeld said. “I hope and believe that when we raise our voices in this way, our temple community and the wider New Jersey community take note.”
Other Essex County synagogues at the event were Temple Ner Tamid, Bnai Keshet, Temple Sholom of West Essex, Congregation Beth El and Temple B’nai Abraham. Participating institutional partners were The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Reform Jewish Voice of NJ, National Council of Jewish Women, HIAS, Bend the Arc, J Street, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and Torah Trumps Hate.