The evening of Saturday, July 17th starts Tisha B’Av (the ninth day of the month of Av). It is day of communal mourning for Jewish people, which commemorates numerous catastrophes that happened on that day throughout history.
We have many contemporary tragedies to mourn this Tisha B’Av: a global pandemic, mass evictions and increased homelessness, environmental catastrophes, antisemitic and racist hate crimes, police violence and a white supremacist insurrection. This is not the kind of world we want to live in.
This year, while we and our partners were successful in ending Howard County’s contract with ICE, a local petition to “repeal the [County’s] sanctuary status” garnered enough signatures that it will be a ballot question in the next election cycle. This year, while we and our partners helped to pass statewide legislation that would protect undocumented immigrants from being targeted by ICE, Governor Hogan vetoed these bills. And, while we and our partners were able to pass both local (Baltimore) and statewide legislation to establish the right to counsel in eviction cases, it will be a long road to fund the programs.
As we mourn for all that we have lost and all that could have been, we turn our mourning into hope for what could be. We envision a world where everyone is housed, where everyone is free to love who they love and pray how they pray, and no one is targeted, oppressed or killed for the color of their skin, their immigration or incarceration status. We envision a world where everyday people can speak truth to power and have their voices heard, their needs met and their aspirations for their children fulfilled.
We have every right to mourn the losses listed above. And we will mourn, but we will also come back and fight. We will work to pass legislation to make our immigrant communities safer, to hold police accountable, and to make our housing system more accessible and fair.
This Tisha B’Av, we will mourn. But we will also reflect on what work needs to be done to undo systems of oppression hurting our communities, and we will then do that work. This Tisha B’Av, let us turn our mourning into hope and into action, into creating a more just Maryland and a better world.
Last year, JUFJers across Maryland came together to mourn and organize around contemporary tragedies, including police brutality, immigrant detention and eviction. Thankfully, we saw progress in each of these issues through the work of our partners over the last year. To see a video made by JUFJ leader Joe Magar, click below.