FAQ About Tisha B’Av #CloseTheCamps Vigils, Aug. 10-11, 2019

What is Tisha B’Av?

Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, is a day of communal mourning. In 2019 it began at sundown on Saturday, Aug. 10 and ended at sundown on Sunday, Aug. 11. The saddest day on the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem and the generations of forced migration of the ancient Israelite people. The day is traditionally observed by fasting and reading from the Bible’s Book of Lamentations. 

Why did Jews around the United States hold #CloseTheCamps vigils on Tisha B’Av?

Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning for the plight of our refugee ancestors. On this Jewish day of mourning, we cannot ignore the cries of those whose tragedy is right before us, the many immigrants and asylum seekers who are being treated inhumanely by the Trump administration. 

We believe it is essential to demonstrate publicly that the Jewish community will not turn its back on refugees arriving in our country and our immigrant neighbors already here. 

Why were many of these vigils held outside Immigration Customs Enforcement offices and facilities? 

The immigrant-led organization United We Dream has asked allies to hold vigils and protests outside ICE offices nationwide. T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights responded to this request by coordinating Jewish vigils and protests in partnership with six other Jewish organizations: Bend the Arc, J Street, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the National Council of Jewish Women, HIAS and Torah Trumps Hate. We demand an end to this unfolding modern-day catastrophe.

Is this the first year Jews are holding immigrant solidarity vigils on Tisha B’Av?

Last year more than a dozen Jewish communities across the country held similar events. All were sponsored by T’ruah, and many were co-sponsored by other local organizations. This year, as thousands of children and other migrants are being put in cages, the Trump administration calls for increased raids on immigrant homes and as the government imposes ever more obstacles for asylum seekers, our numbers quadrupled to more than fifty.

What organizations sponsored Tisha B’Av: Jews Say #CloseTheCamps?

The national sponsors were T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human RightsBend the Arc: Jewish Action, the National Council of Jewish Women, J StreetThe Religious Action Center of Reform JudaismHIAS and Torah Trumps Hate. Many of the local events had additional co-sponsors. 

What else are these Jewish organizations doing to help immigrants and asylum seekers?

T’ruah has organized a network of more than 70 synagogues around the country committing to support immigrants and asylum seekers, whether through providing sanctuary or other forms of assistance (like accompanying people to ICE check-ins). More on that here.

Together with HIAS (the Jewish refugee group) T’ruah has brought two delegations of rabbis and cantors to the border in the past year to bear witness and to stand in solidarity with immigrants and asylum seekers. (You can learn more about that here and here.)

T’ruah, Bend the Arc, NCJW and the RAC formed the Jewish delegation at the protest outside the Homestead Detention Center (in Florida) in June and were part of the successful campaign to shut down Tornillo, the child migrant detention center in Texas.

T’ruah’s newly revised and expanded “Mikdash: A Jewish Guide to the New Sanctuary Movement” provides critical resources, background information and text studies to help rabbis, cantors and their communities take action.

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action has worked in close partnership with Jewish and immigrant-justice allies to mobilize our network to fight back against the Trump Administration’s unrelenting assaults on immigrant communities — from a historic act of Jewish civil disobedience in the U.S. Capitol in support of Dreamers in 2017 to our current campaign to mobilize Jewish support for defunding the agencies committing human rights abuses as part of the Defund Hate coalition.

You can learn more about each organization’s work on their websites.

Why do Jews care about this issue?

The Jewish population in America is diverse and complex, including by race, gender, orientation, ability, and immigration status. Whether our families have stories of our ancestors passing the Statue of Liberty to come to the U.S., stories of survival during the Holocaust, or other stories of fleeing or fighting persecution, we all share a central tradition of exodus and liberation. Concentration camps, law enforcement deployed to round up targeted groups, families separated and caged and children dying in state custody all have painful historical resonances. 

How can I find out if a Tisha B’Av: Jews Say #CloseTheCamps event happened in my community?

Consult the map below, or view the full list of events here.

Where can I find prayers and other resources for used for the Tisha B’Av: Jews Say #CloseTheCamps events?

A full list of downloadable prayers and resources can be found here.

Where can I get placards to use at future events?

Choose from seven different placards here, including “This Is What Never Again Looks Like,” “You Shall Love the Immigrant” and “Resisting Tyrants Since Pharaoh.” Download for free and print them out at home or your nearest printing shop.