This Friday begins the Jewish month of Av and the nine days leading up to Tisha BAv, the Ninth of Av, a day that commemorates the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch, Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, suggests that the day is an opportunity to listen to unheard voices and to make room for diverse approaches to Judaism and ways to be Jewish.
“We are mourning something that took place over 2000 years ago. It is really challenging to feel something about an event so long ago… When I was a pulpit rabbi we tried to create a Ninth of Av commemoration that dealt with the themes of the holiday in the context of the modern State of Israel, between destruction and redemption. For some Israelis, Judaism is viewed through one very narrow lens. That is because there are very dominant voices in the media that say Judaism should be practiced in a particular way. People often assume their way is the right way. The story of Tisha BAv in the Talmud tells us that the Temple destruction happened because people didn’t listen to each other. The Talmud is all about discourse about bringing different views together onto the same page. The message of this is that there are many ways to be Jewish.”
Avi Novis-Deutsch is presently the Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary. Ordained as a Masorti rabbi by the SRS in 2003, Rabbi Novis-Deutsch also has an MA in Jewish Studies from JTS. He served for nine years as a pulpit rabbi at two Masorti congregations in Israel, most recently, at Haminyan Hamishpachti Masorti Kfar Veradim. Rabbi Novis-Deutsch also worked for two years as a Jewish educator in Berkeley and in the Bay Area, California. He is married to Dr. Nurit Novis-Deutsch. They and their three children live on Kibbutz Hanaton.