Nine years ago, in a nondescript basement apartment, three growth-seeking girls were determined to have a meaningful Tishah B’Av. Gathering like-minded friends and enlisting Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein to share a few words, they sat on the floor together to mourn a nation’s unfathomable loss—thus, Ohr Naava was born.
Almost a decade later, it comes as no surprise that with all its branches and functions, Ohr Naava’s Tishah B’Av Program is perhaps its biggest event of the year, inspiring over 5,000 women and girls who walk through the doors on that day.
Ohr Naava, founded in loving memory of Naava Katlowitz, a’h, rose to meet the challenge. Each year, the groundbreaking organization creates a hard-hitting, transformative program designed to help attendees relive the destruction and appreciate the scope of the calamity. Featuring an impressive array of dynamic, powerful speakers, the program has consistently transposed a dreary day characterized by lack of food into a transcendent 24 hours packed with depth, meaning, and growth.
This year promises to be no different. Both the night and the day programs will be held at the Ohr Naava Center, located at 2201 East 23rd Street (corner Avenue V). Commencing with a mournful reading of Eichah at 8:40 p.m., the night segment will continue with a keynote address by Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, “Days are Coming, There Will Be a Hunger in the World.” In the morning, July 16, at 11:00 a.m., will be a moving Kinnos reading with Rabbi Wallerstein, followed by a nonstop lineup of renowned speakers, including Rabbis Label Lam, Rabbi Motti Miller, Rabbi Shmuel Skaist, as well as Mr. Charlie Harary and Mrs. Ivy Kalazan. In addition, at two points during the day, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Video (parts A and B) will be shown.
At the day’s climactic end, Rabbi Shmuel Skaist will deliver a riveting presentation “From Mourning to Morning” followed by a communal break-fast, where attendees can discuss their hopes and dreams that next year Tishah B’Av will look very different.
For those who can’t attend in person, all the shiurim can be viewed live from the comfort of their homes, and can also be viewed retroactively, by visiting www.ohrnaava.com.
“We wish we could be in Yerushalayim,” says a wistful Rabbi Wallerstein, Ohr Naava’s legendary founder and director. “But until then, we’re proud to offer our community a first-of-its-kind, incredibly meaningful, all-day program. When we learn to feel the loss, only then we can rebuild.” v