What is Tisha B’Av? Why today is a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar

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    What is Tisha B'Av? Why today is a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar
    People pray at the Western Wall (Picture: Reuters)

    Today marks a solemn day in the Jewish calendar.

    Tisha B’Av is a time to reflect on the Jews who have been killed over the years in a number of tragedies.

    Millions will pay tribute to them with prayers, fasting and readings from the Torah at synagogues around the globe.

    Here is everything you need to know about Tisha B’Av.

    When is Tisha B’Av?

    What is Tisha B'Av? Why today is a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar
    Ultra Orthodox, and Hareidi Jews pray at the Western or Wailing Wall (Picture:Getty Images)

    Tisha B’Av always falls on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av.

    In the gregorian calendar this is usually in either July or August. This year Tisha B’Av begins the evening of 31 July and ends on August 1.

    What is Tisha B’Av

    What is Tisha B'Av? Why today is a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar
    Women stand arm in arm as hundreds of Gush Katif residents, family and friends gathered at the Neve Dekalim cemetary to mourn on the day of Tisha B’Av (Picture:Getty Images)

    The date is known as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar and commemorates the times when Jewish people have been persecuted over the years – often on the ninth day of Av.

    For this reason, Tisha B’Av is considered by many to be a day destined for tragedy.

    The first horror Jews commemorate during Tisha B’Av is when Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the first temple in Jerusalem in 586BCE, killing 100,000 Jews. The second is when the Romans destroyed the second temple in Jerusalem in 70CE.

    The Holocaust and World War I are also commemorated during Tisha D’Av.

    What do people do to mark the date?

    What is Tisha B'Av? Why today is a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar
    Men praying at the Wailing Wall (Picture: Getty Images)

    Jewish people mark Tisha B’Av with prayers and by fasting. There are other customs as well such as not wearing cosmetics, leather or shaving as well not making idle conversation, smiling or laughing on the date.

    In synagogues the lights are typically dimmed with ornaments removed from show and the ark, which is where the Torah is kept, is usually covered with a black drape.

    During evening services, there are a number of readings to mark Tisha B’Av.

    The Book of Lamentations, which is said to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah after the first temple was destroyed, is usually among these readings.

    Laments for the dead are also recited and in Israel Jewish people often travel to the Western Wall, which are the ruins of the second temple, to mourn the dead.

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