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A DAY OF MOURNING
The Jews have existed for thousands of years. In the course of that long time there have been many happy events to celebrate, but also some evil ones to remember. Since Biblical days there has been a special day for mourning these tragedies. It is called Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the month of Av.
Remembering the First Temple:
On the ninth of Av, or on days very near to it, a number of terrible things happened to us. Two and a half thousand years ago, in 586 C.E. the first great Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. That beautiful Temple had been built by King Solomon to be the place where Jews would worship Hashem. It contained the Ark with the 10 Commandments in it.
Soloman's Temple stood for over 400 years. But then the land was invaded and conquered by armies from the huge, powerful land of Babylonia. The Temple itself was burned to the ground.
Those were terrible days for the Israelites.
In time, Jews returned to Jerusalem. They rebuilt the Temple. Israel again became a busy, growing land, but it was often ruled by some huge empire. The Romans were so cruel that at last the Jews rebelled. It took four years for the Romans to defeat them. When the Roman armies did finally capture Jerusalem, they robbed the Temple and set fire to the second Temple. This also happened on the ninth day of Av.
In the centuries that followed, Jews gradually scattered out from Israel, to all the lands around the Mediterranean Sea and far beyond. This spreading out is called the Diaspora, the Greek word for 'scattering'. For close to two thousand years, Jews have lived in the Diaspora, as we do now.
On Tisha B'Av we mourn the destruction of the two Temples and other terrible times that have come upon our people. It is a day of sadness, but it also contains hope. Over the centuries, many other peoples and religions have disappeared altogether, after being conquered or scattered, but the Jewish people live on. So on this day, although our hearts ache for the suffering that Jews have been through, we know that we are strong, and will go on.
The Second Temple - You can still see it!
During the Roman times, the Temple was rebuilt and greatly enlarged by King Herod. When the Romans seized Jerusalem and burned the Temple, one part of the outer wall survived and still stands today.