‘What Does Vietnam Have to do with Tisha B’Av?’

ON THE HEBREW CALENDAR, Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, is the date in which Jews have mourned the destruction of the second temple and the exile of the Israelites for 2,000 years. On this day it is customary to fast and to give to charity; some go as far as to dress in all black. Traditional observance of Tisha B’Av is a profound reflection on thousands of years of displacement, usually spent in synagogue. But on Tisha B’Av 1972, a group of young Jews gathered outside of the Federal Building in downtown Chicago.

The group was made up of members of the chavurah (independent Jewish religious community) Am Chai, and the Chutzpah Jewish Liberation Collective, a leftist political group that published a newspaper. Most covered their heads with kippot. Like many Jews all over the world that day, they were fasting. What made this different was that they were not at home or at temple, but rather on the street for the entire day and night. And they weren’t just fasting to mourn the destruction of the Second Temple in ancient Jerusalem. They were also protesting the Vietnam War.

Read the rest of my latest article in Jewish Currents here.

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