Once great with joyful people!
New horrors fill horizons now
while old pain never left
Each new loss diminishes
the streets themselves bereft
Bitterly we weep all night
cheeks wet with tears unseen
If we are to join together,
we must widen this choir of woe
When some cries are background noise
what’s the meaning of “friend” and “foe”?
City crying out with loss:
six-year-old child shot to death
joining a list, far too long,
of youth killed in past years.
Community grief so deep for some
while others escape most tears.
Down our roads, more peril
desolation, violence, fear
systems that crush and jail
separate, cage, and hate
Borders come in many shapes
Too often closed, that welcome gate
Evidence mounts. But do we act?
ICE camps remain; racism persists.
Policing prospers, yet safety eludes
Some thrive, while too many do without.
Must we ignore some of our truths
in chasing a joint goal to shout?
Forging coalition is struggle, tougher in anguish.
Inside affliction, can we hear another cry?
It is painful and complex, but we must keep trying
trying to heed the whole sound
I know you can hear it, God once declared loudly:
that voice of a sibling crying up from the ground
–V. Spatz, songeveryday.org CC-BY-SA
Back in 2019, a number of Jewish communities were marking Tisha B’av with vigils and protests, attempting to demonstrate that Jews will not turn our backs on refugees arriving in this country and on immigrant neighbors already here. The original “Eichah: for my city and maybe for yours” (2019) asked us to consider the following:
- Recognize many ways our country has long separated families, caged and brutalized people?
- Cry with our local, national and international communities, refugees and not, who lend different voices to the chorus of “How lonely sits this place!”?
- Send prayer energy to our many beleaguered communities, near and far?
- Commit to exploring, in the days to come, ways in which we are complicit in so much suffering and ways we might take up action for repair?
On this Tisha B’av, 7/18/21, DC-area Jews please acknowledge:
- Nyiah Courtney, age 6, shot to death in Ward 8 on 7/16/21 (the 108th homicide in DC, 2021)
- Makiyah Wilson, age 10, shot to death in Ward 7 on 7/16/18
- Karon Brown, age 11, shot to death in Ward 8 on 7/18/19
Here is the 2019 version, “Eichah: for my city and maybe for yours.” And here is a PDF to use and share of this version.