August 9, 2011, - 5:05 pm

From the Temple to the Holocaust & Hezbollah: The 9th of Av, a Tragic Day in History

By Debbie Schlussel

Today is “Tisha B’Av,” or the Ninth Day of Av (Av is a Hebrew month on the Jewish calendar)–a Jewish fast day, which marks the end of three weeks of deprivation, sacrifice, and mourning. To all of my Jewish friends and readers who are observing the fast, have an easy one. Hopefully, G-d is listening to us and noting our sacrifice and repentance.
You won’t hear us complaining the way Muslims do about fasting, how hot it is, and how hungry they are.


(Graphic from Not Quite Perfect blog in 2007)

Our fasts are much tougher and longer. I’ve been fasting since sundown last night, and the fast ends tonight at nightfall. We do not eat, drink, take showers, etc. for over 25 hours. Jewish fasts mean absolutely no eating, drinking, bathing (no showers), shaving, haircuts, laundry, washing, swimming, make-up wearing, sex, wearing of leather shoes, music, or entertainment. . . . (We usually eat a bigger meal before the fast, which makes it harder because it expands your stomach, though that’s generally required for the Yom Kippur fast and not this one.) Also, no lip balm, which is a tough habit for me to break.

But this is my religion.  I chose to do it and am proud to do it.  I contrast that with recent Detroit front-page newspaper articles about how tough it is for Muslims.  So sad, too bad.  Take off your black head covering and start eating.  And stop complaining to me.  Religion is about sacrifice, not whining and demanding strangers’ sympathy for something you picked as  your path in life.  And in that spirit, I describe to you what Tisha B’Av is:  a tragic day in Jewish history.  But I don’t need anyone’s pity that I’m spending the day without food or drink.  That’s the easy part.  Reflecting on the day in a meaningful way is what’s tougher.

As I’ve previously noted, Tisha B’Av is a day on which five major tragedies occurred to the Jewish people.  It marks the destruction of the Jewish Temples–both of them and many other tragedies in Jewish history, which all occurred on this day in the Jewish calendar. On Tisha B’Av in 1492, the Jews were officially expelled from Spain. Tisha B’Av 1914 (August 1, 1914) was the day World War I broke out, setting the stage for World War II and the Holocaust. On the eve of Tisha B’Av 1942, the Nazis’ mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto began. Most were sent to their deaths at the Treblinka Nazi death camp. Just after Tishah B’Av 1994 concluded, Hezbollah and Iran bombed the Jewish community center of Buenos Aires (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina), Argentina, killing 86 and wounding at least 300 others.

In 1942, many American Catholic priests and Christian ministers participated in the holiday, fasting along with their Jewish-American friends. It was reported in TIME Magazine. And I wrote about it here.

More on Tisha B’Av at Judaism 101 and My Jewish Learning.

28 Responses

And it comes close to muhammadan celebrations of the Badr massacre, where the enemy first slaughtered their own families, in the “cause of allah.” Disregard what is said about “iftar” celebrations; animals slaughtered for same represent the utter valueless of human and family life of a disbeliever (al-kafirun) of the arab murder cult.

Hindus point to the origins of the term “muslim.” Older English language accounts use the term musulman. In sanskrit, “manas” means “folk” (people from a specific region). “Musul” refers to “projectiles” and is the root of our word, “missile.” Early Hindus referred to the people of what is now the “arabian peninssula” as “musulman” because according to Hindu tradition. their “storm gods” of the Vedic period, missed local targets and their missives landed on the peninsula, causing it to be near void of vegetation. Maybe we should give the peninsula to the Hindus.

Jack Mutt on August 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    @Mutt – I show the etymology of “missile” is from Latin, mittere, to “send” or “put.” I’m an ESler, myself – Italian being my first language – and I can tell you that in Italian, “mettere” means “put.” That seems a lot more likely to me.

    DS_ROCKS! on August 9, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Debbie: your devotion is beautiful. G-d Bless you.

DS_ROCKS! on August 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Amen, DS_Rocks!

    JeffE on August 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm

And today of all days, the Obama Administration condemned Israel for building a new neighborhood in Har Homa.

Let’s hope there no more bad news for the coming year!

NormanF on August 9, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Is there a week hat goes by where is not pressuring or condemning Israel one way or another?

    Incidentally, the title (property) to Har Homa was legally bought by a Jewish man by the name of Moskowitz (I think) in Florida. The Arabs have no legal right of any kind to this land.

    In fact, Much of Judea and Samaria was bought by the Jews in the 1920s from all of the coins they deposited in the pushkin (boxes to collect money for charity).

    Obama wants to make every day Tish B’Av for the Jews, but what do you expect? He is not merely a Muslim, but an extremist.

    Jonathan E. Grant on August 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      No Arabs live or will ever live there in the future.

      I fail to see what the uproar is all about.

      In reality of course, the Jewish claim on Jerusalem annoys the world to no end. I could care less how much they hate it!

      NormanF on August 9, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Amen, NormanF.

    JeffE on August 9, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Tisha B’Av is already sad enough knowing that both Holy Temple’s were destroyed on The Temple Mount, the first by the Babylonians and the second by the Romans, but now we read that the word G-d is being taken out of The I.D.F. Prayer according to Arutz Sheva.

Oy Gevalt

Azixoye on August 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    That’s why there will be many more Tisha B’Avs in the future: Jewish contempt for G-d!

    NormanF on August 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    The irony is the Jewish calendar names are all of Babylonian origin. The older pre-exilic Canaanite calendar was lost. Only a few of the months are described in the Bible.

    NormanF on August 10, 2011 at 12:09 am

Today is our 30th wedding anniversary. If perhaps you have a Hebrew calendar that goes back 30 years, you might notice that we were married on the 9th of Av. (Long story. Suffice it to say that we started after sundown.)

There is NO Santa Claus on August 9, 2011 at 7:52 pm

To be exact, WW1 kind of broke out in parts, some starting before Aug. 1, 1914. On Aug. 1, though, Germany declared war on Russia & started full mobilization. And France started full mobilization.

FactsRule on August 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm

The dates when all the events mentioned happened were not on the ninth day of Av. The rabbis decided that the ninth of Av would be the one day that they could lump all these events together! It is amazing how the belief in God is secondary to wailing about the destruction of a physical object. Judaism is based on belief which is a mental process. God did not want the Children of Israel to have a king, but they wanted to be like other nations that had kings. When the kings became a negative force, God enabled the kingdoms to perish. The same held true for temples. Walls have no place in true belief. Real believers in God need no messiah. The idea of one diminishes the daily actions of God. Think. God gave the Jews a mission. Wailing and fasting will not accomplish that mission. Think about the mission…..the past is past. The future dhould be in our thoughts and how we can succeed in our mission!

Shel haas on August 9, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I see that the Ninth Day of Av is observed by you without ostentation or complaint. If Muslims have so many complaints about Ramadan, they should address them to Allah. A cheerless and mechanical participation in a religious celebration or rite is normally considered to be of no value to a believer in Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, or Buddhism. In fact, it would be deemed to be a sign of encroaching or active disbelief by the faithful. I have no fears that you will fall into this, since you have demonstrated your faith time and again on this site. Islam seems to have more on common with late paganism in the West than monotheism. The actions are more relevant than the intent.

Worry01 on August 9, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Jack Mutt writes, “their “storm gods” of the Vedic period, missed local targets and their missives landed on the peninsula, causing it to be near void of vegetation.” It didn’t take storm gods to leave the land barren. Just consider what some 12 centuries of neglect under Muslim rule did to the “land of milk and honey”, with nothing planted and herds of black goats denuding the land of anything green. One might imagine the land was yearning for the Jews to return and redeem it.

There is however one tragedy Debbie fails to note, but it’s one of our own doing. In 2005 Israel elected to withdraw completely from Gaza, even removing the graves of her dead. It was originally scheduled for just before Tisha B’Av. Some thought that unwise so it was delayed… until right after that day. (I was at the U of Haifa during that painful event.) What the Palestinians got out of that gesture was the opportunity to build their own state (which they blew). What Israel got out of it was … increased mortar and rocket fire.

Raymond in DC on August 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Debbie I’ve never been much of a tisha b’av fan. I feel we have enough tsauris (Jewish bad luck) so we don’t really need a special day to mourn our losses. Also given that we abstained from sex and bathing I think we should make up for it on Wednesday.

A1 on August 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm


    The 9th of Av was not observed in my home when I was growing up. I learned to appreciate it more when we accidentally scheduled our wedding on that day. By the time our Rabbi looked at his calendar (and gasped) our invitations were already in the mail.

    We had to re-schedule the wedding for after sundown, but our anniversary date, August 9, 1981, remains connected to the 9th of Av in the Hebrew calendar.

    For Jews brought up in homes that are Reform/Conservative, the 9th of Av kinda sneaks up on us. The summer months of July/August are not much in the way of a “holiday period” (save for the U.S. Independence Day; not a Jewish holiday). Those of us who live on the Gregorian calendar are making preparations for the High Holidays coming in September/October. Having marked Yom Hashoah and Israeli Independence day in May, the 9th of Av is more of a traditional mourning day.

    Nonetheless, I’m always glad when my Orthodox and/or observant Jewish friends remind me of the day. It doesn’t matter whether the Temple was destroyed on exactly that day. It is important to:

    *Remember the Temple and were it stood

    *Remember who destroyed it and that it was destroyed to establish and consolidate a vast tyrannical empire.

    *Rebuild a modern Jewish nation from the foundations of its walls

    *Live again as a free people in the land of our ancestors where no other independent nation existed until 1948.

    I suppose that’s not what the Rabbis teach about Tisha B’Av, but Jewish theology has never been one of my areas of special knowledge. I just “know enough to be dangerous”.

    There is NO Santa Claus on August 10, 2011 at 7:26 am

I would like to comment and expand on the following statement in your blog.

Religion is about sacrifice, not whining and demanding strangers’ sympathy for something you picked as your path in life.

A persons religion is about personal sacrifice, not sacrificing nonbelievers in the name of your debased (muslim) religion.

The islamic faith is not a religion of peace. It is a faith of war,agitation, and antagonism. If it is such a peaceful faith, Why did the founder of the the islamic faith(ie “Death cult”) spread it through war and pillage.

Why is CAIR waging an undeclared psychological war against its surrounding nonbelieving populations?

Clay Leissner on August 10, 2011 at 1:20 am

Here in Afghanistan we are told by the US Military not to eat or drink in front of Muslims.

Seems it is offensive to them for other people not to practice Islam.

Stephen on August 10, 2011 at 8:13 am

    My Muslim friends here don’t really care if I eat in front of them during fasting and even offer me food/drink when I visit before sun down…. just saying again.

    Mr. E on August 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I have loved hearing all the facts about this Jewish holiday, AND MORE THAN THAT, I totally appreciate the devotion, dedication and seriousness with which several observe their Jewish faith. Enjoy/respect very much the statement that religion is about sacrifice — Amen!
In many circles Judaism seems to be a dying faith – so it goes thru out our world – I have met many Jews of late who are JINO’s [Jewish in Name Only]! It saddens/enrages me to see how they have cast off all religious obligation, tradition, and especially sacrifice for more liberal interpretations: Buddhism as an example! Enraged again! I recently viewed the original film “Fiddler on the Roof” and at least was comforted once again with the version of belief and celebration – I needed to see/feel it/be strengthened by it. {My own experience: married a Jewish man, attended shul, took many Judaism classes and lived as a Conservative Jew for 15 yrs; then divorce occurred. Now a Catholic but love both religions — sisters in several ways — and always want the best for my real observant Jewish kin regardless of anything else!} Peace to Israel – may God protect her in these strange violent times.
Keep the faith Debbie, all…more important than we even realize!

robinpayne on August 10, 2011 at 11:36 am

It sounds like there are more things in common between the major religions than not, what with all the talk of fasting and sacrificing etc…. just saying.

ME: Really? How many Jews or Christians murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11, shot up Fort Hood, tried to shoot up Fort Hood again, tried to shoot up Fort Dix, and tried to blow up Times Square and a plane via an underwear bomb? No, there’s nothing in common between the major religions and Islam. That they fast an easier version of a fast is just a symptom of the fact that Islam is basically shoplifted and stolen from Judaism and Christianity. WAKE UP. DS

Mr. E on August 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Debbie it’s interesting with all the hate for Muslims you have it was in Spain under Muslim rule where the Jews thrived up until the Christians took over in 1492, expelling Muslims and Jews alike.

J: Wow, you’re incredibly ignorant and incredibly wrong. In fact, the Al-Mohad Muslims (who controlled Spain) forcibly converted hundreds of thousands of Jews to Islam and killed many others–so many it was a larger percentage of the Jews that the Al-Mohads claimed than was claimed by the Holocaust. The Al-Mohads forced many Spanish Jews to convert. The only hate is by Muslims for me and other Jews, Christians, and non-Muslims. I just point it out. Get a clue. DS

Jerome on August 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm

The Jewish People are the apple of God’s eye. The possibility that all these major events/tragedies occurred on the 9th of Av cannot be a coincidence. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will restore the Jewish people to all their lands in the Middle East has He promised regardless of what Obama, the Arabs, the Persians, the Russians, and others say or do.

Concerned Citizen on August 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Mr. E in Afghanistan,

The purpoe of this prohibition of eating in front of Moslems is to assert to supremacy of Islamic practices nothing else.

Let me tell you a true story; I am an Eastern orthodox Catholic and we fastin total abstention; once you finish your supper you do not drink or eat until the stars appear in the sky the second day. I used to have two colleagues who were moslems. In Ramadan when I ordered a cup of tea for my self they asked me to order two cups of coffee for them. The Coffee man brought my cup of tea and the coffee cups and put them on my desk. As soon as he leaves the come and pick their cups.

One day the coffee man told me; “You must be a holy man”. I was surprised at his remark and asked him why doea he think I am a holy man. He told me you always make a miracle at your desk; I put all three cups on your desk and the coffee cups move to the other peoples desk all by the miracle of your holyness. I laughed because of his sarcasm and jokingly told him;”From your mouth to heavens.”

G. R. SCHAROUBIM on August 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I refuse to feel sad on Tisha B’Av because there is no GOOD reason why the Temple can’t be rebuilt immediately. What’s the point of sobbing about the destruction of the Temple when one can rectify this matter?

skzion on August 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Fast for an entire month, then see who’s complaining. 🙂

And you know a tragic day? The day Spain allowed jews to enter, not the day they kicked ’em out. 😀

Motives on August 13, 2011 at 5:56 am

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