Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Solemn Day

Today's date in the Jewish calendar is the 9th day of the month of Av. In Hebrew, Tisha b'Av. It's a special holiday in the calendar, the most solemn day of the year as it marks the date of the destruction of both the first and second temples built in Jerusalem. The first was destroyed by the Babylonians, the second by the Romans. Each destruction has its own special significance for Jews. Although carried out by armies, it is believed that the demolitions were the result of the will of G-d. In the case of the first temple because of the worship of idols by the ancient Hebrews, and in the second because of the internecine fighting and killing between the various sects of Jews.

Yom Kippur is also a solemn day in the calendar, but there is a sense of redemption and renewal - through repentance, acceptance of our less than perfect humanity, and promise to try harder in the coming year. For Tisha b'Av, at the end of the day there's no feeling of uplift. Just a relief that the day of mourning and fasting is over.

I went to Williamsburg in the afternoon to get a feel of what the neighborhood would be like on such a solemn day. I expected to see the streets empty and the stores all closed up. They all were for the most part. Some grocery stores and bakeries were open late in the afternoon so people could have fresh food for the breaking of the fast. As I walked along Bedford ave. the driver of a van parked by the curb rolled down his window and asked about why I was taking photos. I struck up a conversation with the three men. If I hadn't taken one good shot for the afternoon, that conversation would have made the whole day for me. Here's the three amigos: