This year, though, we finally decided to join our friends who've been reading Eichah at the Sherover Promenade, overlooking the Old City and the Temple Mount. If you live in Jerusalem, I finally figured, why sit in a small synagogue when you can be outside, gazing at the very site that you're mourning?
There were hundreds of people on the Promenade, and the view of the Temple Mount was as stunning as always. But still, something was making me uncomfortable. Yes, you could see the Temple Mount from where we were, but you also couldn't help but notice the new, rebuilt city of Jerusalem, as well. The hotels, the YMCA tower - all the famous landmarks of modern Jerusalem - were fully in view, lit so brightly that it was impossible not to dwell on them, too. And from that vantage point, Jerusalem just didn't seem the destroyed, abandoned, demolished city that's described in Lamentations. Even as we were still reading the words, I could tell - it was harder than it had been in previous years to get into the mood of utter devastation. There was something cognitively dissonant about the whole thing. And I wondered - is this the way to commemorate Tisha B'Av? Is this the place to be reading, "For these things do I weep" (Lam. 1:16)?
If we're mourning the loss of Jerusalem, does it really make sense to sit where you can't help but see that while the Temple is gone, Jerusalem has been rebuilt? Somehow, the Temple Mount and the rebuilt city in one shared view didn't seem to fit the tenor of the evening. Next Tisha B'Av, I decided, I'll skip the Promenade, and just head back to shul.
Next year, let's go inside the Temple Mount courtyard, outside the sacred portions, and sit down and then recite Eichah.
If the words and atmosphere don't get to you, the Waqf guards or, if you are lucky, the Israeli police, will provide you with a devastating experience very quickly, one you'll never forget.