Kinah on Tisha b’Av 5779: A Call to Close the Camps and Welcome the Stranger

person meditating by candlelight

We ask Eichah?! We ask how and why and by whom?

For the children who cannot understand why their parents won’t come in the night when they call

For the children who have stopped calling

For the woman who sleeps in bloodstained underwear because there are no tampons.

For the woman whose husband promised to kill her and the police asked what she had done to provoke him and they laughed and here she is searching for safety and told she does not merit asylum

For the woman who was told all her life that she was a boy and then a man and her best friend was left in the street torn by knives and by flesh and here she was locked up without the medicine she needed and now she is dead

For the boy who was told it would happen to his sister unless he did it to someone else and now he is here and does not know where his sister is

For the man who has raised his sisters and brothers since he was 14 and death squads took his parents and now he is under armed guard in the country that trained and armed the death squads

We cry for Rabbi Shmuel and Rabbi Yehiel of Cologne who refused the Crusader’s baptism and so they exchanged an embrace and holy kiss and threw themselves into the Rhine l’kiddush HaShem, for the sake of The Name

And we cry for the lovers who joined a caravan of hope, riding north to attain the right to marry only to be told asylum is not for them

We cry for the mothers of old Jerusalem who watched their children wither, sucking futilely at a breast turned to an empty sack and no food, no food so hungry they were tempted to eat a child’s corpse

And we cry for the mothers who scraped tools and hands against a poisoned earth turned barren so they brought their children over land and river to where there is food in season and out of it and now their children are taken, to where they do not know

We cry for the butchered of Cordoba and Seville where streets were stained with the blood of murdered Jews

And we cry for the girl who ran for her freedom because she had torn a rapist’s seed from her belly and now is called criminal

We abstain from food and remember those from whom food is kept

We abstain from water and remember those who must choose between thirst and washing

We cry today until we too are parched and empty

We cry until despair and cynicism and immobilizing fear are washed away

Source of Mercy and Justice, we pray for strength

So that tomorrow we rise and we witness and we act until the last prisoner is free, the last fence torn down.

Poem

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