• Guest Blog

My Israeli Point Of View About Tisha B’Av

Hi, I'm Shifra. I was born and raised in Jerusalem and am currently still living in Jerusalem. I grew up in a Jewish Orthodox religious household, but today, I see things differently.

Men praying at the Western Wall on Tisha B'Av

Today is Tisha B’Av. It's the saddest day in the Jewish calendar and marks the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Then

When I was a kid, it was easier to feel connected. Growing up in Israel and attending a religious school, I learned about Jewish tradition in a way that made it accessible. It was a mandatory experience. All I had to do is reach out and take it.


Before I turned eighteen, the day had more significant meaning: In the time leading up to this day when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temples, I attended classes with my family that put me in the mindset of what Tisha B’Av represents. I then paid a visit to the Western Wall, the only remaining evidence of the Temple.


I remember that right before I walked out the door my mom was there to remind me “Don’t forget to change your shoes!”

Today

As the years went by I lost my strong connection to Jewish tradition. I started to ask questions and pick and choose what works for me. It is not as clear-cut as before.

So how do I observe this fast day today?

I see it more as a technical experience, like completing a checklist. I don't do what is forbidden, but I also don't do anything extra. I think it is because if I do the minimum I need to do, I will not feel like I am turning my back on my upbringing.

What do I mean by a checklist? Well, in the Jewish tradition, some things are forbidden to do on Tisha B’Av. The reason: to promote an atmosphere of mourning and sadness.

TOP Forbidden activities include:

  • Eating and drinking

  • Bathing or washing

  • Applying ointments or creams

  • Wearing leather footwear

So I don't do what is forbidden. However, I have a full-time job, which prevents me from visiting the Western Wall or attending lectures. The only thing that stays the same is MY CROCS.

They will not go to the Western Wall, but they will come with me to work.

Blue crocs on a pile of stones
Credit Shifra Gottleib

But don’t worry that I have lost my fashion sense. These non-fashionable shoes only see daylight on Tisha B’Av.

So I will end with this. To all those who are “mourning” on this day - Have an easy and meaningful fast!