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The Only Democracy? » Featured » May you have good grief: Tisha B’ Av on the Only Democracy?

May you have good grief: Tisha B’ Av on the Only Democracy?

by Jesse  Bacon

I just got done observing Tisha B’ Av, the 9th of Av a relatively new Jewish holiday commemorating the destruction of the Temples. Having attended liberal Tisha B’ Av observances for several years, I must have noticed the part about how the messiah will be born on Tisha B’Av, or to take it out of religious person, there will be redepmtion grown from the seeds of cataclysm.

Until this year, I was fortunate that TIAA-CREF, the focus of Jewish Voice for Peace’s first divestment campaign chose Tisha B’ Av to hold their annual meeting. For the first time, I got to act out hope and grief, activism and religious observance simultaneously as I helped organize a delegation of members of TIAA-CREF’s retirement fund to speak out about the effects of companies that TIAA-CREF invests in doing business with Israel’s occupation on Palestinians: the homes destroyed, the land taken over, the roads that bar them from travel while allowing Israelis, the people detained and even killed.  Seeing these people speak out, many of whom were first-time activists was to watch their faces change, their discovery of their own power.

Too often this is a privilege denied people on the ground in Israel/Palestine, who do not get to be listened to directly by the heads of a major retirement fund. Too often they are punished harshly and unjustly for similar activism. Too often they have to take it on faith they are making a difference, or have to content themselves with at least making it visible that they exist.

I hope that my hunch is correct that I made a difference this Tisha B’ Av. But more importantly I hope this feeling of will spread, and not be limited to those safely far away from the conflict. And that there will be no more catastrophes, for Isarelis, Palestinians, or the planet, and that I will not continue to profit from the catatostrophes that have already occurred.

For more on this holiday and how you can take action, here’s a friend of the Only Democracy, Rae Abileah at

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JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

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