Israel is preparing for Tisha B’Av, which begins tonight, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar where Jews in Israel and around the world take time to reflect on the Jews who have been killed in the tragedies of the Jewish people. Tisha B’Av, which translates to the Ninth of Av in English, is considered by many to be a day destined for tragedy, due to the large number of Jewish tragedies which have occurred on the date.
The first tragedy to befall the Jewish people on Tisha B’Av was the destruction of the Jewish First Temple in Jerusalem which was destroyed by the invading Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE. The Temple’s destruction by the Babylonians also killed over 100,000 Jews.
On the very same date, the Second Jewish Temple which was built 70 years after the destruction of the First Temple, was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE and the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem.
Other tragedies which occurred on Tisha B’Av include the expulsion of all Jews from England in 1290, and then Spain in 1492, and the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp in 1942.
The Jewish people mark Tisha B’Av with prayers and by fasting for 25 hours. There are other customs including not sitting on chairs, not wearing cosmetics, not wearing leather shoes, not shaving, not playing music, and not smiling or laughing on the date.
In Israel, Tisha B’Av draws thousands of people to the Western Wall, one of the remnants from the Second Temple. Laments for the dead are recited and The Book of Lamentations, which is said to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah after the First Temple was destroyed, is often read.
Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.