Tisha B’Av: Fast, mourn and contemplate a kinnot for Jewish tragedies

SUNSET MONDAY, JULY 15: Jewish communities around the world are fasting on what author Debra Darvick calls “the most somber day in Jewish history.”

You can read Debra Darvick’s short introduction to the holiday from her book This Jewish Life. Plus, Debra also has written a new Tisha B’Av column for 2013, focusing on how men and women today can approach this ancient observance. In her column, Debra writes in part: “Tisha B’Av, a Jewish day of mourning that falls during the summer, marks the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. This year it begins Monday evening, July 15, and concludes sunset on Tuesday, July 16. I have attended services sporadically, more out of a sense of responsibility than any feeling of true mourning. How do I mourn something absent from Jewish experience for nearly two millennia?”


As the countdown to sunset begins, some Jews sit on low stools for the final meal before commencement of the fast. Nightfall arrives with the use of candles, dim lighting and the reading of the Book of Lamentations in the synagogue. (Read more from Judaism 101.) Later that evening, some sleep on the floor or with no pillow. The morning of Tisha B’Av begins with no greetings, no smiles and an aura of mourning, as Jews make their way to the synagogue for chanting and the reading of kinnot (liturgical lamentations). Though the fast officially ends at sunset, other mourning customs may continue, reflecting traditions that tell of the Temple’s continuous burning throughout the night and for most of the following day—the 10th of Av. (Find interactive materials and articles at Aish.com and Chabad.org.)

TISHA B’AV 2013:

Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem means a march around the walls of the Old City. This year, ceremonies will begin with a reading from the Book of Lamentations. (Check out the story here.) Jews worldwide struggling to interpret ancient kinnot—elegies written on tragedies of Jewish history, most of which were composed between the 6th and 10th centuries—help is offered by the Orthodox Union, in the form of live and on-demand webcasts. (Read more from the Israel National News.)