This past Thursday morning, I was awoken by a curious event in my suburban Washington, D.C., home. At first, when I heard a loud noise and felt my house shaking at 5:04 a.m., I thought a car had crashed into the house. What else could cause such a loud noise and make my house shake like that? When the noise and shaking didn't stop so quickly, I realized we'd had an earthquake.

In Maryland, though?

My husband (who had slept through it) and I later heard the morning news confirm that a 3.6 magnitude quake had been centered only 20 miles from our home. There was no damage to anything in the area, but locals all had a lot of fun asking each other if we felt the quake. It was such a mild quake that many people, to their great disappointment, slept through the whole thing.

In a store later that morning, a clerk and I were chatting about the quake. After a few moments of lighthearted talk she said to me, "You know, this earthquake puts the Haiti earthquake into perspective for me. That was a 7.4 magnitude quake, which is about 1,000 times stronger than the brief jolt we felt here."

Our light attitude suddenly disappeared as we considered the relative power of these two quakes.

We each recalled the utter destruction and devastation in Haiti. Buildings, homes, utilities and more were shaken, destroyed and utterly razed to their very foundations. There was very little solid or organizational structure left in Haiti after that earthquake. The Haitian people had nothing to cling to, no place to call home. Devastated, homeless and hopeless citizens roamed the streets looking for something, somewhere that was still a place to live, a place to survive in. Much of the population moved into tents and other temporary dwellings in order to recover and survive. And Haiti still has years of rebuilding ahead of them to get back to how they were before the earthquake. My heart stirred, thinking about the pain of displacement and dislocation the families of Haiti much surely still feel.

And then I began thinking about the message of these two earthquakes for us, the Jewish people.

As a Jewish woman, I try to see all phenomena, including natural disasters, as a lesson to learn from. After all, G‑d doesn't communicate with us directly anymore as in the times of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem when prophets abounded and High Priests could ask questions directly of G‑d and receive answers. Instead today, G‑d sends us coded messages through personal and world events.

As we are approaching Tisha B'Av (starting at sundown tonight, July 19th through sundown July 20th), the anniversary of the destruction of both our Holy Temples, it seems to me that there is a message and a connection between the two earthquakes and the tragic events that happened, and happen, to the Jewish nation.

The Jewish people around the world have been experiencing an upswing in anti-Semitism: The attack on the Chabad center in Mumbai, and the kidnap, torture and beheading of a Jewish man in France. Synagogues and Jewish organizations are being defaced. In Europe, Jewish people have been attacked and beaten while trying to go to synagogue. In New York this week a man was distributing Nazi-like anti-Semitic literature right in front of buildings housing Jewish organizations.

Anti-Israel sentiments are also swelling. The recent Gaza Flotilla episode was designed to create terrible PR for Israel and it worked. Many countries around the world penalized Israel, and Jewish and pro-Israel organizations are feeling the heat.

Yet all these actions are like a 3.6 earthquake. We hear the roar and feel the rattle of our foundations. We talk about these events for a brief while. We pray for things to get better. And then we move on.

But, the destruction of the Holy Temple nearly 2,000 years ago, that was a 7.4 earthquake. It left the Jewish Nation homeless, without any structure, security, or stability for two millennia. We were utterly devastated as our earthly connection to G‑d's Divine Presence was totally gone. The leadership and guidance role of the holy Priests, which we had always counted on, was destroyed along with the Temple. This is the picture of devastation that the destruction of the Temple caused us.

Ever since then, the Jewish people has lived in metaphorical tents and temporary dwellings all over the world in order to survive. Today we have thousands of synagogues and yeshivahs and rabbis to guide us in prayer and study, and these institutions have helped us survive. But what we all really long for is another Holy Temple, where unity of the Jewish nation and direct connection to G‑d can resume.

This Tisha B'Av, let's use the imagery of devastation that we all recall from the Haiti earthquake to stir our hearts to feel sadness for the loss and destruction of our own Temple, 2,000 years ago. Our Jewish nation is still bereft, and we pray with all our hearts that we can one day soon rebuild.