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Observing the 9th of Av in Israel

8 August, 20118 August, 2011 0 comments Uncategorized Uncategorized

Many significant – and tragic – events befell Israel and the Jewish people on the exact same date on the Jewish calendar over the centuries. Because of that, Jews observe Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av) and if you are in Israel, you can participate in nationwide prayer and fasting.

It is a solemn day that begins this year on the eve of Aug. 8 and commemorates the anniversary of the destruction of the first and second temple, which resulted in many deaths, destruction and exile. The restriction against studying Torah excepting those portions that deal with the destruction of the first and second temple, begin at midday on August 8.  At the Western Wall, the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem and synagogues around the country, congregants will pray specific prayers.


Because the temple was situated in Jerusalem, the city's fate is the focus of the observance. Many Jews prefer to pray at the Western Wall itself, the site of the Jewish temple, or at the promenade or the ampitheatre at Mount Scopus because of the sweeping views of the ancient city from these two venues. The reading is taken from Jeremiah's Book of Lamentations and is known in hebrew as Eichah.The leader reads the prayers aloud and the congregation reads along in an undertone.

“How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave. Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.” Lamentations 1:1-2


The aptly named book is a lament over the destruction of the first temple. Some will read it by candlelight while sitting on the floor. Those who fast observe a total fast – no eating or drinking, do not shower or wear leather and, in the strictest observances, will sleep on the floor. Even though not all Israelis fast or attend synagogue, most restaurants, coffee shops and bars will be closed on Monday night only to reopen Tuesday morning after prayers.


The three weeks preceding Tisha B’Av are a period known as Bein HaMetsarim. This is a mourning period that starts on the 17th of Tammuz, the day the walls of Jerusalem were breached prior to the destruction of the second temple. During this period there are no weddings and religious Jews do not cut their hair or listen to music.


Despite the tragic history of the day, Israel has much to celebrate nevertheless. In its 63rd year as a state, Israel has survived several threats to its existence and has a thriving economy and tourism industry today.



Events that are believed to have occurred on the 9th of Av:

Ten of the twelve spies sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan returned with a negative report while only Joshua and Caleb brought a positive report

The First Temple built by King Solomon and the Kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC

The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD

The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 100,000 Jews in 132 AD

Following the siege of Jerusalem, a Roman commander plowed the site of the Temple and the surrounding area in 133 AD

The First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II on July 20, 1095 which led to the death ofkilling 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroyed Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland.

Jews were expelled from England on July 25,1290

Jews were expelled from Spain on August 11, 1492

World War I began on August 1, 1914

The mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto on July 23, 1942

The Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 86 and wounding 300 others on Monday July 18, 1994


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