Update: The fundraiser has been cancelled after everyone complained (or in my case, laughed their head off). But according to an oleh who apparently remains a Republican strategist, the Romney campaign knew it was Tisha B'av and still thought it would be a good idea.
Jonny Daniels, a leading Republican political strategist in Israel, told The Huffington Post that the campaign had been aware of the date of the holiday when it scheduled the fundraiser. The campaign thought it could hold the event in a way that would not offend, he said, but was taken by surprise at the ferocity of the public outcry over the timing. Apparently the now campaign is claiming such an event was never planned, while a potential donor said it was always supposed to happen after nightfall.And I just figured someone didn't check a calendar.
Mitt Romney's holding a $60,000 a plate fundraiser in Jerusalem at the end of the month. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend. Not only because I'll be in San Diego, but because I, along with other religious Jews, will be fasting.
That's right, of all the days he could've chosen to hold a big shebang fundraiser with food in Jerusalem, he chose to hold it on July 29th, when we observe Tisha B'Av (technically the 9th day of the month of Av is July 28th, but that's a Saturday and the only fast day that takes precedence over Shabbat [when you can't fast normally and should be joyful not mournful] is Yom Kippur, so we observe Tisha B'av the next day this year)
Tisha B'av is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, when we mourn many, many calamities that have befallen the Jewish people, from the destruction of the First and Second Temple to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain to the beginning of mass deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka. Along with Yom Kippur, it is the only full 25-hour fast day (from evening to evening; there are several minor fast days which are sunup to sundown).
Practically, this seems to be a big gaffe since religious American expat Jews won't be able to attend, and it seems especially insensitive after the last "big" (ha!) Republican, Chris Christie, davened with an Artscroll at the Kotel. However, it may be the case that Mitt will bring in some students from the Mormon Yeshiva in Jerusalem to fill the chairs. Hopefully his advisers will realize it's a bad idea to take Mitt to the Kotel that afternoon, as no doubt he'll be terrified by the black straps everyone has on and assume there's about to be a mass terror attack. I'd urge them instead to take him to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, where I'm sure Mitt will give a great speech about all of his fellow Mormons who perished at the hands of the Nazis.