Rabbi Mark Washofsky, Ph.D.

Black and white headshit of Rabbi Mark Washofsky wearing a suit and tie

Rabbi Mark Washofsky, Ph.D., is the Solomon B. Freehof Professor of Jewish Law and Practice at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, OH. He specializes in the literature of the Talmud and Jewish law and chaired the Responsa Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis from 1996-2017. His books include Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice (URJ Press, revised 2010) and Reform Responsa for the Twenty-First Century (CCAR, 2010).

How do Reform Jews understand Tishah B’Av?

Rabbi Mark Washofsky, Ph.D.
The observance of Tishah B’Av (literally the 9th day of the month of Av) poses some interesting questions for Reform Jews. The day is one of fasting and mourning, for the destruction of both the First and the Second Temple in Jerusalem is said to have taken place on that day. While other tragic events in Jewish history may have coincided with the ninth of Av, it is the Temple’s destruction (churban habayit) that dominates the day’s ritual and liturgy. Reform theology has not generally looked upon the loss of the Temple and the expulsion of the people of Israel from its land as a catastrophe to be lamented by liberal Jews.