Tag Archives: Tisha B’Av

Why this is my most important Tisha B’Av



This year, starting on the evening of August 10th till the evening of August 11th, the Jewish people commemorate the day known as Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av.  It is the day that commemorates the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem and as it is universally recognized as the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, it is also a day in which the Jewish people remember the greatest tragedies in our history.  Specifically for those of us in this generation, the murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.  For me personally, in many ways this is my most important Tisha B’Av.

When I wrote the book Jew Face, telling about my parent’s experiences in Holland during the Nazi-occupation, one of the most remarkable aspects of writing it was that I felt as though I went back into time and was with my parents as young adults.  This experience, for lack of a better term, was an incredibly “cool” experience and to be honest one I loved experiencing.  But as is the case with so much in life there is a flip side.  In my recent trip to Amsterdam that same, I guess I will call it sensation, returned for the first time since writing the book.  Except this time it was not as pleasant.  Walking through Amsterdam, specifically the former Jewish neighborhoods, I felt the horror that took place between 1940 and 1945.  Standing in front of what was once the “NIZ”, the Dutch Jewish Hospital,  I could almost sense the Nazi trucks approaching, the soldiers storming the building, and knew that I was within meters of the place where my mother shouted to the chief Nazi administrator, ” why are you doing this?”, to which he replied, “ask the Rabbis”.  I walked on the street that was likely my father’s favorite street on any given Shabbat and could feel what was once an incredible presence of Judaism.  I walked through the streets of Amsterdam at times feeling what I could only describe as the presence of ghosts in what to me was in some ways a graveyard of what was once a thriving Jewish community.

I recognize that I can not know how much of this experience was real and how much of it was just something I felt from within, but since it was more an experience than an overall state of mind I don’t feel it matters one way or another.  What does matter however, as I get close to the commemoration of the saddest day of the Jewish year, that I felt the greatest sadness I have ever felt as a Jew for the plight of my people.  Intellectually I have understood the importance of Tisha B’Av for much of my life.  Emotionally however, I have never understood as I do today, and go into it with an understanding that makes this my most important Tisha B’Av.  A Tisha B’Av in which I have a better emotional understanding of the pain and suffering this day honors and remembers, and the hope that that same pain and suffering is not only never something the Jewish people ever experience again, but that the evil that causes it is never given the power to do that anywhere again or to anyone again on this earth.








A Day of Sadness

Temple-Destruction (1)The 9th Day of the Jewish month of Av, known in Hebrew as Tisha B’Av, is the day commemorating the destruction of the first and second Temples that once stood in Jerusalem.  It is a day of tragedy and commemorates some of the worst moments in Jewish history.  Simply put, it is the saddest day of the year, and it begins tonight.

On this Tisha B’Av let’s pray that all the tragedy and sadness stops, and that we see a world of peace and kindness.  We have seen so many days of sadness recently but lets stay hopeful for a brighter future. I know it sounds unrealistic at this moment, but if it was easy we wouldn’t need to pray for it.  To all those fasting I wish you an easy fast.


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Tisha B’Av: In the Mind and in the Heart

Most of my posts are done with some degree of research and historical reference.  Although the basis of this post will originate in overall Jewish and personal experience, this particular post comes entirely from the heart.  The wide range of emotions felt by any one individual make up who they are and although there are many, the 2 primary ones are joy and sadness.  Emotions are impacted by our level of maturity.  This does not necessarily imply that one is immature if they do not feel certain emotions, but that who we are and how we have grown, positively or negatively, will impact our emotional responses.  I say this because when I look at how I feel about Tisha B’Av today compared to years back, the difference is significant.

I’ve always known the religious and historical reasons for the commemoration of Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av.  It is said that both Jewish Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, many years apart, on the same day, Tisha B’Av.  The city burned, people died, and the greatest physical symbol of Judaism was destroyed twice, on the same calendar date.  Since the Holocaust, Tisha B’Av has held greater meaning as it is used to recognize the loss and sadness of the Jewish people during that horrific time.  And yet, through so many of my adult years, although I always intellectually understood the importance and acknowledged it to different degrees, I would be dishonest if I were to say I truly felt sad.  This was until a few years ago.

So what changed?  I did not become more observant.  I am still someone who for right or wrong, picks and chooses what Jewish laws I keep and which ones I do not.  No one sat me down and gave me a speech to influence my feelings.  And yet, tonight, as I sit and write this on Tisha B’Av, I feel a genuine sadness.  I credit much of how I feel to the impact the writing of the book had on me.  However, not in the way one might think.

My experience in writing the book had me immerse myself into the world of my parents between 1940 and 1945.  How fortunate I was to feel at times as though I was there with them yet never actually be hungry, desperate, cold, hunted, and in constant danger.  I imagined I was there yet at no time was my life ever threatened.  What this did was teach me one of the most important and poignant lessons of my entire life.  It’s not all about me.  We all live our lives that consist of the good and the bad.  Many do live with some degree of fear or danger.  I do not, and I thank God for that.  But today I am a different person.  I am now someone who understands that it is not only my personal suffering and tragedy or that of those close to me that matters and should cause me true sadness.  Tisha B’Av is a day to recognize the sadness of others and to allow ourselves to truly feel it with emotion, not just intellect.  A day in which my own personal growth has now given me the opportunity to put myself in someone else’s shoes and see past my comfort and freedom and be truly sad for the pain and suffering of the Jewish people.  Now on Tisha B’Av my heart feels what my mind always knew.  I once heard a Rabbi compare Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur and how we fast full days on both saying, on Yom Kippur if one truly understand the awe of judgment by God, who would be able to eat?  And on Tisha B’Av, knowing the true sadness of the day, who would want to eat?  That makes sense to me now, not because I understand it, I always did, but because now I feel it with true emotion.

Tisha B’Av and an Olympic fiasco

As the sun sets this Saturday, July 28, 2012, the we being the commemoration of the 9th day of the month of Av on the Jewish calendar.  This day, known as Tisha B’Av, is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.  It commemorates the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem and is widely recognized as the day used to remember those lost in the Holocaust when exact dates are not available.  The sadness of the day is in line with the feelings of despair caused by the attempted annihilation of the Jewish people by Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  This is going to be a short post designed to make a very powerful and important point.  On the eve of Tisha B’Av 1941, the Nazi killing machine signed into effect the “Final Solution” against the Jews.  On the eve of Tisha B’Av 1942, the Nazis ordered the beginning of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto.  And on the eve of Tisha B’Av 2012 the OIC (Olympic International Committee) will not sanction just 1 minute of silence at the opening ceremonies for 11 Jewish people murdered at one of its previous events, the Munich Olympics.

Let me make something very clear.  I am by no means comparing the decision makers of the OIC to the evil murderous thugs of Nazi Germany.  However, the message this sends to me is that 70 years later Jewish lives still do not hold value to many out there, and subsequently what I do on this site and what many reading do in their lives carries a great responsibility and importance to Jewish people worldwide.  We must never forget, and in doing so do whatever possible to make sure the world never forgets.

A Day of Sadness

With Tisha B’Av less than a week away, I will be putting together some special posts in respect to what is widely considered as the saddest day in the Jewish year.  It is widely accepted as the day used to remember those murdered by the Nazis on unknown dates and has a powerful relevance to this website.