Like most summers, I have officiated at a requisite handful of weddings this summer. And I am sure many of you whose weddings happened in the summer, are celebrating joyous anniversaries. Mazel tov! With the warm weather and with children on different schedules, summer is a time of joy, of adventure and celebration. At the end of every wedding ceremony, I usually explain why, in the midst of such a joyous occasion, the groom or one of the partners breaks a glass. It is an act of finality signalling the end of the ceremony. Yet the origin of the ritual goes much deeper and is multi-faceted. Primarily, it commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem so many years ago. And to incorporate memory of collective tragedy in the midst of joy is very Jewish. In our happiest moments, we remember the pain, loss and brokenness of life. The converse is also true: in the midst of the saddest times, like in illness or the death of a loved one, we remember our joy: Joy for their presence and meaning in our lives, joy for presence, community and comfort itself.

Today is Rosh Chodesh Av, the beginning of the month of Av. And though it always falls in the heart of summer, it is the saddest and most mournful month of our calendar. Traditionally, no weddings happen from now through the ninth of Av. In our Reform community, we do have two b’nei mitzvah this Shabbat and the week after. Mazel tov to the Greenberg-Stovak and Nisenfeld families! Yet next Saturday night, August 13th, begins Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning and fasting for the loss of the Temple and the “yahrzeit” of so many tragedies in our memory. Even as we reflect on these tragedies and contemplate those aspects of our world most in need of healing, we will also celebrate these bar/bat mitzvah milestones in two of our member families. And even in our celebration, we will remember the sting of destruction and loss in our history, reminding us never to be complacent in times of fortune and comfort.

Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Bair