Tisha B'Av at the Democratic Convention

(from www.jpost.co.il)


Perhaps only actor Ben Affleck caused more stares on the floor of the Democratic Convention Monday night than the gathering of roughly 25 Jews, sitting on the floor, chanting the Book of Lamentations at the start of Tisha B'Av.

The day of mourning, commemorating the destruction of the Temple, coincided with the first night of the convention. And to help out observant Jews in need of a place to pray, the National Jewish Democratic Council arranged for Bill Hamilton, a Boston rabbi, to lead a service at the Fleet Center.

Right after former US president Bill Clinton wrapped up his remarks at 11 p.m. and the thousands of delegates, journalists, politicians, and staffers filtered out for the evening's festivities, the group of Jews, many wearing yarmulkas, others wearing baseball caps, gathered onto the floor of the stadium.

The reading of Lamentations is traditionally done while sitting on the floor, so many in the group sat on the red carpet, much of it covered in debris and popcorn.

"It was a surreal experience to be sitting on the floor of the convention having a solemn service, while behind us was Ben Affleck and [Reverend] Al Sharpton," said Kenneth Baer, 31, a former speechwriter for vice president Al Gore.

"Al Sharpton did not come deliver a meditation on the Book of Lamentations," he added jokingly.

Amos Hochstein, 32, a former congressional staffer who now works for Cassidy & Associates, a political and governmental relations firm in Washington, said, "It was a remarkable moment that I could never expect as a modern Orthodox Jew who is also active in American politics. To combine those two is such a powerful statement. I can't think of any other country in the world where you would find on the floor of the convention – literally sitting on the floor of the convention – only a moment after speeches by Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, people chanting Eicha [Lamentations] and [reciting evening prayers]. It was an extremely moving moment," Hochstein added.

Shana Tesler, 32, who also works at Cassidy, and was a former staff member in the Clinton White House, said, "It was a sort of a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me to be on the convention floor, to be sitting there doing Eicha, on a night that president Clinton spoke. For him to speak and... then to stay on the same floor and listen to Eicha, it was wild."



Redesign and implementation - By WEB-ACTION