What is Tisha B’Av?

Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, is a day of communal mourning. 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 last year?

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 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.

Was 2019 the first year Jews held immigrant solidarity vigils on Tisha B’Av?

In 2018, 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. In 2019, as thousands of children and other migrants were being put in cages, the Trump administration called for increased raids on immigrant homes and as the government imposed ever more obstacles for asylum seekers, our numbers quadrupled to more than fifty.

What else is T’ruah 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 several delegations of rabbis and cantors to the border to bear witness and to stand in solidarity with immigrants and asylum seekers. 

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.

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 last year?

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

Where can I find prayers and other resources 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.