An unfortunate case of laryngitis couldn’t prevent Cantor Malcolm Arnold from leading a powerful and meaningful Erev Tisha B’Av service at Congregation Kol Tikvah in Parkland.
Tisha B’Av is an annual holy day commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. It has been called “the saddest day in Jewish history” and is also one of general mourning for the numerous catastrophes that have coincidentally befallen Jews on the ninth of Av.
Arnold noted he was pleased with the turnout of about 50 people. “I was expecting 30 people, and I would’ve been happy with 30,” he said.
Kol Tikvah is a Reform synagogue that began hosting this service eight years ago.
“Tisha B’Av is considered by so many Jews as an important holiday, and the congregants were curious to why we weren’t doing this before we started it,” Arnold said. “We have a lot of people here who want to learn and want to experience this service.”
Despite Arnold having laryngitis that caused him to “reinvent” the service, he was still able to move and enlighten the attendees at this solemn event that included music from pianist Marina Stolyar.
“People who know me said it [laryngitis] added to the prophetic nature of the holiday,” Arnold said. “There was a vulnerability that was caused beyond my power, the same way as I introduced the service that when the temple was destroyed, the next generation had to reinvent − and I had to reinvent the service.”
Service attendees provided their thoughts on the service.
Bruce Jay of Coral Springs said, “I thought this type of service brings you from the history to the reality and then asks you to internalize it, and that’s what’s so important to our branch of Judaism, to be able to internalize things so that your actions reflect better.”
Jeff Sasson of Boca Raton called the service “very powerful, solemn and somber,” and felt the reading of The Book of Lamentations stood out.
Hilda Metzger of Parkland said, “Although the service is somber as it recalls all these disasters that happened, the cantor said we have to remember things. We can’t just forget about them as if they never happened.”
Larry Schwartz of Coral Springs said, “Like the cantor said, these catastrophes are part of the things that happened in the history of the Jews, but remembering the things that have happened to us in the past is how we stay together, so it was just a beautiful service as it always is.”
During the service, Arnold told the attendees to fast on Tisha B’Av if they find it meaningful ─ or don’t fast if they don’t find it meaningful ─ and that either way, sit down and figure out how much it cost for them to eat for a day, add it up and then whether they’ve eaten or not, write a check for that amount to help Israel. He continued that writing a check to the Israel Emergency Fund or one of the local food pantries is a wonderful way to reinterpret the mandate to fast.
“We memorialize the fast to make us more aware and sensitive to the plight of too many in our present time and to realize that unlike us who chose to live in the diaspora, too many are living as exiles in an unwelcoming world, and like the mandate of this holy day, it is a reason to mourn,” Arnold told the attendees.
Call 954-346-7878, or visit koltikvah.net.