Barbara Green has been a volunteer for Americans for Peace Now for many years. She lives in Washington, DC.
Commemorating as it does the destruction of both the first and second temples in Jerusalem, Tisha b'Av is problematic for secular American Jews. The destruction of the central institution of pre-rabbinic Judaism, first by the Babylonians in 587 BCE, and then by the Romans in 70 CE, both followed by exile from the land, were indeed terrible events in our history. Among observant Jews, Tisha B’Av has also been, and remains, a Jewish day of mourning, not only for these events, but also for a number of other historic tragedies which happened to fall during the late summer.
But it does make me wonder, what does the recitation of this litany do to our sense of self? Does it tell us we're victims and must always stay strong? We must behave toward our enemies the way they treated us?