Today is Tisha B’Av, and it’d be one mofo of a day if it was 586 BCE or the year 70, or even 1492.
Tisha B’Av is basically the Jewish Anniversary of Awful: On this day in 586 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar and his army of mad Babylonians destroyed the First Temple in Jerusalem, murdering 100,000 Jews and exiling a million. In 70AD, the Romans did the same to the Second Temple, only they killed two million and exiled everyone else. The anti-Semitic Spanish monarchs expelled all their Jews on this day in 1492 (yes, the same year their bitch Columbus was handing out syphilis to the indigenous people of the Americas.)
There are even more ugly coincidences on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av: officially being kicked out of England in 1290, the deportation of Warsaw’s Jews to the Ghetto in 1942, the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 (technically, it was the day after the ninth, but it was still Tisha B’Av on the West Coast) and in 2005, the beginning of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza the forced expulsion of the residents of Gush Katif (no matter whose side you’re on, that was not a good day for anyone involved.) And yet, impossibly, there are even more calamities listed here.
Observant Jews commemorate this day with a fast and restriction on anything that smacks of work, play or sex. Portions of “Lamentations” are recited at synagogue along with special elegies–sometimes there’s crying as our people bemoan all the really heavy sh*t that’s come down on us and pray for better times.
Jews like me–that is to say, those who do not take the time out of our lives to participate in this communal mourning–might be at work, clicking around the ‘net, feeling a vague blue moodiness and promising ourselves that we will light a yartzeit (memorial) candle when we get home tonight for all of those who endured horror on past ninths of Av.
While there’s still time for Ahmedinejad to push the button or Hamas to throw another PR flotilla party, I’m thinking 2010 won’t appear on the Tisha B’Av list. May getting rained on be the worst thing that happens to any of us today.
*Francesco Hayez’s depiction of the destruction of the Second Temple from essential-architecture.com.