As we approach the 9th of Av, we have been considering what the message of the 9th of Av is for us, as people working with individuals and communities that have suffered great disasters.
At first we thought that the message was one of commiseration: The survivors of hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, have suffered a great loss; we, too, have suffered a great loss, one that we commemorate even today, 2,000 years later.
But the more we thought about it, the more we realized that the message we needed to learn from Thisha B’Av was not about the 9th of Av at all. We needed to learn the message of the Tenth of Av (Yud B’Av).
Yud B’Av is a day of hope. It is the day when someone comes out into the rubble and lifts the first stone. It is a day still tinged with sadness, when we remember the destruction that has befallen us—but at the same time, it is the day we begin to look forward, knowing that there will be a tomorrow that will be better than today.
Communities that have been hit by disasters need many things on their Yud B’Av. They need the basics (food, water, shelter), they need manpower (contractors, plumbers, roofers, volunteers), and they need materials. But one thing that is often over looked after a disaster is the need for hope.
We at the JDRC try to bring the message of Yud B’Av to communities affected by disasters. We come in the day after devastation, to pick up the first stone. We don’t just tell the community that there will be a brighter tomorrow—we show them, by rolling up our sleeves and working with them to help them get there.