We are a people who have suffered enormously. Given our experience with suffering and its regular inclusion in our calendar, Tisha B'Av ought to be easy to commemorate. But it is set at a time when we are most disinclined to mourn. Thus, Tisha B'Av becomes the most challenging day in the Jewish year, the one whose spirit is hardest to feel.
"Because of the strong support of the Republican candidate for president and doubts about the commitment of the Democrat, this is the year that large numbers of Democrats will finally move into the Republican camp and stay there, because the Republicans really do better represent the status and interests of the Jews."
Jews for Jesus, Jews attending churches, low synagogue membership, astronomical rates of intermarriage -- as complex as these issues are, there is at least one remarkably simple and inexpensive solution to encouraging Jewish participation. It's called a warm greeting.
A friendly smile, a warm greeting, an invitation to lunch. If you think that is silly and simplistic, think again. As part of their course work, I require my students to interview two Jews. Because many of them -- all non-Jews, primarily from the South Bay -- lead very narrow lives, they do not know how to find Jews and turn to familiar institutions, one of which is church. Lo and behold -- as the most recent National Jewish Population Survey has finally shown -- they find Jews there.