The Ninth of Life

it’s the Ninth of Av again, and as i type this, i find myself lamenting [among other things] the death of the chatroom.  because right about now, i want to talk to some other JOCs.  get their thoughts on today.  because i can’t help but wonder: “do we really need to spend this day contemplating the destruction of the Temple?  having our every thought today occupied with absorbing the severity and gravity of the galut?”

the obvious answer is “yes”.

but i can’t help but note that after 24 hrs of saying kinot and echah, spending the day in woe, and mourning a Temple destroyed due to “baseless hatred”, at about 9:00 tomorrow, the majority of judaism [at least here in america], will go around the corner to their Kosher Delight, or Estihana, or Garden of Eat-In, or Jerusalem Pizza, or kosher Dunkin Donuts or Subway, talk to their neighbors/friends/family about the highs and lows of their fast experience, go to sleep, and the next day it’ll be back to business planning weddings, making shidduchs, going to knesset/shul meetings, tending their family business that thrives in their bustling community, not really giving a second thought [until the ninth rolls around again next year] to the exile that, yeah, they’re aware of, but doesn’t really affect their day-to-day lives.  it’s more of a background white noise, really.

but for typical JOC judaism?  when the fast ends they’ll be checking voicemails from friends [and in some cases, family] who wonder why they didn’t come hang out last night [or for these past three weeks, for that matter].  they’ll probably order a large amount of food they’re not going to eat but have to order anyway since the nearest kosher place is second-star-to-the-right-and-straight-on-till-morning away and the minimum delivery order is $20 [if you’re lucky].  or they might just cobble something together from the local Met or Key Food.  they’ll say hello to that neighbor who looks at them weirdly every Shabbat when they’re dressed and heading to knesset/shul [it doesn’t matter whether the neighbor is jewish or not.  or even frum or not].  they might even, like myself, find themselves continuing on with their lives in brooklyn, living [literally and ironically] on the border between “black” [flatbush] and “jewish” [midwood].

unfortunately for JOCS, the galut isn’t as easily ignored.  it’s less “the Ninth of Av” and more like “tuesday.”

the reasons for which are apparent [magnified even] even on this of all days.

a quick read through kinot will reveal at least two dirges dedicated to the Holocaust.  i’m sorry.  i meant dedicated specifically to those who perished in “churban europe” [i.e., poland, germany, lithuania, et al].  however, as i recall [and by “recall” i mean “discovered after copious amounts of research”] in 1935, mussolini [an ally of hitler, you’ll remember] invaded and occupied ethiopia until 1941.  in that time he ordered/oversaw the massacre of 700,000 ethiopian jews who somehow get left out of holocaust history.  and so only “churban europe” happened.

“one may not study torah on the Ninth b/c the study of torah brings joy.”

yes. please, stop me from experiencing the joys of reading the rashi’s racially slanted interpretation of cham in bereshit.  or the backpedaling explanation of how tzippora wasn’t really black or ethiopian, but how “her good deeds were as obvious as an ethiopian’s black skin” in shemot. wtf?

every JOC who reads these and interpretations like these has reason to lament even more deeply than the rest of judaism on the Ninth.  because we acutely know that these trains of thoughts are unapologetically being perpetuated.  because we truly understand how far away Mashiach really is because of them.  how much the “baseless hatred” that destroyed the beit hamikdash hasn’t significantly budged an inch in over 2,000 years.  just imagine if the final redemption kept getting delayed just one second for every odd look a JOC was given on entering a knesset/shul or a judaica store or a kosher supermarket.  or while speaking hebrew.  for every “gut shabbos”  sneezed at a JOC while they’ve been briskly walked past [not to mention the straight up ignored “shabbat shaloms” offered].  for every fingertip handshake given.  every denied “overlooked” or “forgotten” aliyah opportunity in shul.  just putting it out there but does no one else sometimes feel empty or fraudulent saying “l’shana haba’ah birushalayim” on rosh hashana or at seder?  or the rest of the time, you really painfully mean it?  do we really need to drown ourselves in all this today?  it’ll just be the same thing all over again tomorrow.

why do i say all of this?  well i’m a screenwriter who had the ingenious idea of culminating essentially everything i and other JOCS have ever experienced into a screenplay.  it was a grueling and disheartening experience, and it took that stopping and evaluation and culmination for me to truly absorb what a mess us JOCs really are and how f*cked up the world is around us.  no community.  barely tolerated, let alone accepted.  in some cases barely jewish.  in other cases barely ethnic.  it is truly overwhelming and a feeling and reality that permeates JOC lives far beyond the Ninth.

for some reason, this year i can’t bring myself to spend the whole day contemplating what happened 2,000 years past when there is so much festering reality to ponder in the present.  i’m not even sure what my point in this blog is really.  but i guess it’s safe to say that Mixedjewgirl, Jewminicana, and Y-Love have a new neighbor.

–MaNishtana

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3 thoughts on “The Ninth of Life

  1. “…imagine if the final redemption kept getting delayed just one second for every odd look a JOC was given on entering a knesset/shul or a judaica store or a kosher supermarket, or while speaking hebrew.”

    Well said, chaver sheli. Well said. Tweet that, please.

    Like

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