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Tishah B’Av means “Ninth of Av” and refers to a Jewish day of fasting and mourning.
Excerpted from The Jewish Home by Daniel B. Syme. URJ Press
Traditionally Tishah B’Av is the darkest of all days, a time set aside for mourning the destruction of both ancient Temples in Jerusalem. As on Yom Kippur, the fast extends until the following sundown. In the synagogue, the Book of lamentations is changed, as are kinot, dirges written during the Middle Ages. Sitting on low stools, a shivah custom, congregants also read sections of the books of Jeremiah and Job, as well as biblical and talmudic passages dealing with the Temples’ destruction.
Reform Judaism has never assigned a central religious role to the ancient Temple. To the early Reformers, mourning the destruction of the Temple in such elaborate fashion did not seem meaningful, especially since Reform has not idealized the rebuilding of the Temple, as has Jewish tradition. For most Reform Jews, then, 586 b.c.e. and 70 c.e. are important dates in Jewish history, but Tishah B’Av has faded in importance as a ritual observance. In order to understand the mournful nature of Tishah B’Av, then, we must enter the traditional mind as we look back into history.
The First Temple in Jerusalem was constructed during the reign of King Solomon (965 b.c.e.–925 b.c.e.). Solomon’s father, King David, had wished to build the Temple, but was not allowed to do so. The Bible relates that God disqualified David because of his many military campaigns. The Temple was to be a holy place, a place of peace. Therefore, only a king who had not shed blood could bring it into being. Thus, Solomon, whose Hebrew name was Shlomo (from shalom, peace), inherited this sacred task.
Solomon built the First Temple with the assistance of King Hiram of Tyre. Hiram sent his Phoenician artists and builders magnificent stone from his nation’s quarries and the beautiful cedars of Lebanon to aid in the task.
The finished Temple was an awesome structure. Situated on a mountain 2/500 feet high, it had courtyard, a sanctuary, and a small room called the Holy of Holie, entered only once a year by the high priest. It was in the Temple that the kohanim (priests) offered the ancient sacrifices on behalf of the people, assisted by the Levites.
In 586 b.c.e., the Babylonian army surrounded Jerusalem. Led by their general, Bebuchadnezzar, they broke into the city and conquered it. Then, on the Ninth of Av, they destroyed the Temple. The Jews were sent into exile, crushed and despondent. According to some scholars, the prophet Jeremiah, grieving for the Temple, composed Psalm 137, in which he wrote: “By the waters of Babylon, we lay down and wept for thee Zion.” A people who had grounded their entire religious system in a priestly Temple structure suddenly had it torn away from them.
Even as he mourned, Jeremiah still had hope. He told the people that they would one day return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. He was correct. Some sixty years later, Persia conquered Babylonia, and the Persian King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return home. They rebuilt the Temple but it was not nearly as magnificent as Solomon’s Temple had been. Still, the Jews rejoiced, for once again they had an opportunity to be led by their priests and to offer sacrifices in their holiest site. It was this rebuilt Temple that King Antiochus defiled in 168 b.c.e., and which the Maccabees reconsecrated three years later. But the Building of the Second Temple was yet to come.
The Second Temple was enhanced and expanded during the first century b.c.e by King Herod, one of the cruelest rulers in Jewish history. Deciding that the rebuilt Temple was not to his liking, Herod decided to expand it. He partially leveled the previous site, then oversaw the construction of a Temple that rivaled that of Solomon’s in grandeur.
Herod had intended to continually add new structures to the Temple grounds, but the work was never completed. In 70 c.e., Roman legions, led by the General Titus, conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. It was the Ninth of Av. Once again, the Jews were sent into exile, this time to Rome.
Some historians have expressed doubt that the actual destruction of both Temples occurred on the Ninth of Av, but there is no disputing the fact that the day became a symbol of Jewish tragedy. The synagogue ultimately replaced the Temple. [New forms of worship and religious leadership were created.] But Jew continued to hope and pray that the Temple would be restored. The prayer book and songs expressed this yearning, and Tisha B’Av became a vehicle for expressing that deep sorrow.
1. Invite friends.
2. Ask guests to prepare a Shabbat blessing, song, or story
3. Set a special table for Shabbat dinner.
4. Use a special tablecloth.
5. Arrange fresh flowers in your home.
6. Polish the silver.
7. Pour a nice wine.
8. Bake or buy a challah.
9. Give thanks for the blessings of the week.
10. Light special candles.
11. Read a Shabbat prayer…then read it again.
12. Say blessings over the wine and challah.
13. Sing some nice songs.
14. Listen to the quiet peace of a dinner at home…without phone, TV, or radio.
15. Take a Shabbat walk.
16. Be open to moments of wonder, of soulful encounter.
17. Pause for a moment as Shabbat ends on Saturday night. Sing havdalah!
Shabbat Anthology Volume II (Book/CD)
Composer/Artist:Dunn, J. Mark/Joel N. Eglash, editors
Format:Piano/Vocal/Guitar and CD
The long-awaited series is finally here! Shabbat Anthology brings to light both newly composed and older Sabbath music that has never been published, in Piano/Vocal/Guitar format. Shabbat Anthology Volume II includes classic liturgical works from such esteemed composers as Joe Black, Charles Davidson, Paula Goldberg, Sylvia Goldstein, Lisa Levine, Louis Lewandowski, Mah Tovu, Rachelle Nelson, Stuart Rauch, Benjie Ellen Schiller, Sol Zim and many more. Several ‘folk’ pieces are also included, focusing on the music of the Ladino (Judeo-Spanish)-speaking Sephardic Jews. Perfect for those looking to add something new to their worship. Includes CD with all 33 songs, featuring performances by the original artists, as well as Cantors Richard Botton, Erik L.F. Contzius, Jessica Epstein, Mark Opatow, Kari Siegel-Eglash and others. Invitation to Shabbat, An (with CD) –
A Beginner’s Guide to Weekly Celebration
Explore Shabbat step-by-step and blessing-by-blessing from candlelighting to Havdalah. Discover the essential elements of tradition along with modern options for enhancing spiritual awareness. Explore the many paths to a satisfying Shabbat celebration through the words of those who began to observe Shabbat as adults. Blessings in Hebrew, transliteration, and English are included, alongside descriptions of rituals, as well as their history and folklore. Rounding out this extraordinary guide are traditional recipes–Ashkenazic and Sephardic–a bibliography, and a CD recording for learning and pleasure that brings to life the music of Shabbat.
A Shabbat Reader: Universe of Cosmic Joy
Edited by Dov Peretz Elkins
Share the rich Sabbath experiences of a diverse group of prominent Jewish thinkers. Noted author and anthologist Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins has mined every vein of Jewish experience to produce a collection of spiritual essays, poetry, and meditations on the transcendent meaning of the seventh day. He culls from a wealth of sources ranging from the traditional to the radical, including among his forty selections works by Sue Levi Elwell, Blu Greenberg, Lawrence Kushner, Michael Lerner, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, W. Gunther Plaut, Gershom G. Scholem, and Elie Wiesel. Sections of the collection explore Shabbat in Classical Texts, Shabbat as the Ultimate Mitzvah, Jews Celebrate Shabbat, and Shabbat in Modern Thought.
“Dov Peretz Elkins is one of the most spiritual people I know. His work continues to be chicken soup for my soul.”
— Jack Canfield, coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Do It Yourself Shabbat
URJ Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning
Prepared by the Family Education Committee of the URJ-CCAR Commission on Jewish Education This guide explains each of the four prayers recited on erev Shabbat and suggests alternate ways to incorporate them into various family settings. The blessings are presented in English, in Hebrew, and in transliteration.
The Shabbat Angels
Maxine Segal Handelman, Illustrated by Joani Keller Rothenberg
Something is not right in the home of Chaim Yonkel and his wife, Esther. Usually their home is filled with the smells of delicious foods, the sounds of laughing children, and happy smiles on everyone’s faces. But this Shabbat finds the family fighting, Shabbat dinner unprepared, and the house a mess.
The Talmud tells the story of two angels, Tov and Rah. According to this legend, these angels follow each person home from synagogue on Shabbat and deliver a blessing. If Shabbat is being honored and the home is filled with Shabbat peace, the angel of good, Tov, gets to deliver the blessing that every Shabbat should be like this one. However, if Shabbat is not being honored, the angel of evil, Rah, gets to deliver the blessing, turning the same words into a curse.
This contemporary version of the talmudic tale, illustrated with breathtaking illustrations by Joani Keller Rothenberg, updates the story for today’s families. The Shabbat Angels will delight the whole family while it teaches the importance of Shabbat shalom, Shabbat peace.
Written and illustrated by Camille Kress
This board book for toddlers encourages parents and children to share a rich spiritual and sensory Shabbat experience. Artist and author Camille Kress created this story on cardboard for her young son because heavy pages cannot be torn by little fingers. Her warm watercolors depict Shabbat symbols within the home–candlesticks, challah, and a Kiddush cup–and a family celebrating a peaceful Shabbat evening.
“Simple and engaging.”–Booklist
Written by Michelle Shapiro Abraham,Illustrated by Ann Koffsky
From the author of Good Morning, Boker Tov and Good Night, Lilah Tov, Michelle Abraham’s latest book introduces preschoolers to the joy of Shabbat.
In simple, rhyming language, Shabbat Shalom! tells the story of family celebrating Shabbat. . Filled with prayers and beautiful illustrations, Shabbat Shalom! is a wonderful way to teach toddlers about lighting Shabbat candles, reciting the Kiddush, saying the blessing over the challah and more. Abraham’s educational books for preschoolers are proven successes, making learning fun and exciting. Shabbat Shalom! is the perfect compliment to the Morning/Bedtime Rituals books, creating a strong start to leading a Jewish life.
|NOTE: Each holiday begins and ends at sundown on the days listed.|
|Secular Year||Sep ’11 –
|Sep ’12 –
|Sep ’13 –
|Sep ’14 –
|Sep ’15 –
|S’LICHOT SERVICE||Sep 24||Sep 8||Aug 31||Sep 20||Sep 5|
||Sep 16-18||Sep 4-6||Sep 24-26||Sep 13-15
|YOM KIPPUR||Oct 7-8
||Sep 13-14||Oct 3-4
|SUKKOT||Oct 12-19||Sep 30-Oct 7||Sep 18-25||Oct 8-15||Sep 27-Oct 4
||Oct 7-8||Sep 25-26||Oct 16-17
||Nov 27-Dec 5||Dec 16-24||Dec 6-14|
|TU BISH’VAT||Feb 7-8
||Jan 25-26||Jan 15-16||Feb 3-4
|PURIM||Mar 7-8||Feb 23-24
||Mar 4-5||Mar 23-24|
||Mar 25-Apr 1||Apr 14-21
|YOM HASHOAH||Apr 18-19||Apr 6-7||Apr 26-27||Apr 15-16||May 4-5
|Apr 24-25||Apr 14-15||May 4-5
||Apr 15-16||May 5-6
||Apr 27-28||May 17-18||May 6-7||May 25-26
||May 14-15||Jun 3-4||May 23-24
||Aug 5-6||Jul 25-26
|NOTE: Each holiday begins and ends at sundown on the days listed.|
Judaism is more than just a religion: it’s a culture, a language, a way of life. And, integrated fully into these Jewish traditions are unique words and sayings. Though words may have different roots or origins (Hebrew, Yiddish, German), their meanings are universal throughout the Jewish community. This glossary introduces some of the more common sayings appropriate for lifestyle and holiday events.
Berachah (pl. Berachot) – Blessing.
Shehecheyanu – Literally: “[God] who has kept us alive”.This is the blessing for beginnings, happy occasions. It is also said at candle-lighting, Kiddush, and at certain other specific times during festival observance.
B’rit Milah – Covenant of circumcision, traditionally performed on the eighth day of a boy’s life.
Mohel – Highly skilled ritual circumciser.
Kvater/Kvaterin– Godfather/Godmother: those who carry the baby into the b’rit ceremony
Sandak – Person who holds the baby during the ceremony.
Seudat Mitzvah – A festive meal which honors the observance of a mitzvah.
Mi Sheberach – Literally: “May the One who blessed”. A prayer usually, but not solely, recited after a person has been honored with a Torah blessing. There are various forms of this prayer, one of which is used to name a child.
B’rit HaChayim – Literally: “covenant of life”. A home ceremony for the naming of baby girls.
Pidyon Haben/Habat – Literally: “redemption of the (first-born) son/daughter.”Home ceremony which takes place on the thirty-first day of a child’s life.
Kiddush Pe’ter Rechem – Modern ceremony celebrating the birth of the first child.
Chanukah – Literally: dedication.
Chanukat HaBayit – Literally: dedication of the house.Ceremonial hanging of the mezuzah.
Menorah – Seven- or eight-branched candelabra. Most commonly used to refer to the eight-branched Chanukah lamp.
Chanukiah – Eight-branched Chanukah menorah.
Gelt – Yiddish word for “money”; given as a Chanukah present, used for playing dreidel.
Dreidel – Yiddish for “top”; used in Chanukah game. Known in Hebrew as “sevivon“.
Nes Gadol Hayah Sham – Literally: “A great miracle happened there.”First letters of these four words are found on the dreidel.
Latke – Yiddish word for “pancake”. Potato latkes are traditionally eaten on Chanukah.
Ger/Gioret – “One who is invited to join the Hebrew tribe.”The masculine and feminine forms of the Hebrew term for convert.
Gerut – Conversion.
Halachah – Jewish Law.
Kabbalat Ol Mitzvot– Literally: “acceptance of the yoke if the commandments.”
Tevilah – Immersion in a ritual bath (mikveh) or any natural body of water which can serve as a mikveh.
Gan Eden – Literally: Garden of Eden; paradise.
Gehinom – Literally: Valley of Hinom; place of punishment.
Kevod HaMet – Honor due to the dead.
Taharah – Ritual purification.
Tachrichim – Burial shrouds.
Chevrah Kadisha – Group of people entrusted with the mitzvah of preparing the body for burial.
El Malei Rachamim – Literally: “God, full of compassion”; memorial prayer.
Keriah – Tearing of a garment or a ribbon as an expression of grief.
Shivah – Seven-day mourning period beginning with the burial.
Sheloshim – Thirty-day mourning period.
Unveiling – Dedication of the grave marker.
Yahrzeit– Anniversary of the death.
Kaddish – Prayer praising God. There are several Kaddish prayers recited during the service, one of which is recited in memory of the departed.
Yizkor – Memorial services held on Yom Kippur and on the last day of Pesach, Shavout, and Sukot.
Seudat Havra’ah – Literally: meal of condolence; prepared by the friends of the mourners.
Mitzvah – Commandment; obligatory responses to our Jewish traditions.
Minyan – Quorum of ten people necessary for public prayer.
Bar/Bat (Bas) Mitzvah – Ceremony marking youngster’s reaching the age of religious majority.
Haftarah – Selection from the Prophets read or chanted after the weekly Torah portion.
Talit (Talis) – Prayer shawl.
Hebrew School – After-school Hebrew classes.
Sunday School – Classes in history, customs, and ceremonies.
Religious School – Term that includes both Sunday school and Hebrew school, though in some synagogues it refers to only Sunday school. Sometimes Religious school is referred to as Torah school.
Cheder – Old-fashioned term for Hebrew school. In Eastern Europe, it was the primary school.
Shabbaton (pl. Shabbatonim) – A Sabbath program of study and celebration.
Kallah (pl. Kallot) – A conclave or retreat.
Chavurah (pl. Chavurot) – Informal group which meets together for study and celebration.
MARRIAGE & HOME
Kiddushin – Marriage.
Ketubah (pl. Ketubot) – Marriage contract.
Chatan – Groom.
Kalah – Bride.
Chuppah – Canopy; it can be a talit, velvet or silk canopy, or floral arrangement.
Ring – Traditionally it is solid, without stones.
“Harei at mekudeshet li betaba’at zo kedat Mosheh v’Yisrael”– Literally: “Behold you are consecrated unto me, with this ring, according to the Law of Moses and Israel.” This is the Hebrew nuptial formula.
Sheva Berachot – Seven traditional blessings recited or chanted after the exchange of rings.
Kiddush Cup – For wine, which is drunk after the Sheva Berachot.
Glass to Break – There are various interpretations of the symbolism. The traditional explanation is that the glass is broken in memory of the destruction of the Temple.
Yichud – Time spent alone together by the bride and groom immediately after the wedding ceremony.
Aufruf – Calling up of the bridegroom for Torah blessings on the Shabbat preceding the wedding.
Mikveh – Ritual bath traditionally visited by the bride prior to the wedding.
Fasting – Bridal couple traditionally fasts on the wedding day prior to the ceremony.
Get – Religious divorce.
Chanukat HaBayit– Literally: dedication of the house.
Mezuzah – Ritual object consisting of a casing and a klaf (scroll) which is put on the doorpost(s) of the house.
Klaf – Handwritten mezuzah scroll containing Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21.
Pushke – Tzedakah box.
Kosher – Ritually fit.
Trefe – Literally: torn apart; food that is not ritually fit. It is the opposite of kosher.
Parve – Containing neither meat/meat derivatives nor milk/milk derivatives and which can be eaten with either milk or meat meals, e.g., fruits, vegetables, eggs.
Milchig – Foods derived from milk or milk products.
Pesach – Passover.
Seder – Literally: order; refers to program of prayers and rituals for the home celebration.
Haggadah (pl. Haggadot) – Literally: telling.It is our duty to tell the story of Passover, particularly to the children.
Matzah – The unleavened bread eaten in recollection of the hurried departure from Egypt. The eating of matzah is obligatory only at the seder. During the rest of Pesach, one may abstain from matzah as long as all chamets is avoided.
Chamets – Leavened bread and anything made with wheat, rye, barley, oats, and spelt unless supervised to ensure that it has not leavened.
The Four Cups – Each has a specific place in the service. The first serves as the Kiddush; the second is taken at the conclusion of the first part of the seder; the third is the cup marking the conclusion of the grace after the meal; the fourth cup comes at the conclusion of the seder. The four cups are said to refer to the promises of redemption made by God to Israel.
The Four Questions – Questions asked at the seder. The answers to the questions form the rest of the Haggadah.
The Cup of Elijah – Elijah is the herald of the Messianic Era when justice and peace will be realized.
Karpas – A green herb such as parsley or a green vegetable such as celery or watercress. It symbolizes spring.
Maror – The bitter herbs such as horseradish symbolizing the bitter plight of the enslaved Israelites.
Charoset – A mixture of fruits, nuts, and wine. Its color and consistency is a reminder of the bricks and mortar used by the Israelite slaves.
Shank Bone – Symbolic of the paschal sacrifice.
Egg – Represents the additional Passover festive offering, the “chagigah,” in the Temple.
Afikoman – A Greek word meaning “dessert.” We make the matzah the official dessert of the seder meal. To keep the children alert during the seder, the afikoman is hidden. The children find it and the leader of the seder must redeem it.
Opening the Door – We open the door to welcome symbolically the prophet Elijah.
Ma’ot Chitim – Literally: wheat money; money collected prior to Passover to assist the needy to celebrate the holiday.
Purim – Literally: lots.
Megillah (pl. Megillot) – Literally: scroll. There are five megillot in the Bible. The one read on Purim is Megillat Esther.
Grogger – Noisemaker used to drown out Haman’s name.
Purim Schpiel – Humorous play put on at Purim.
Shabbat Zachor– The Shabbat immediately preceding Purim. Its name is taken from the additional Torah portion read that day- Deuteronomy 25:17-19 – which begins with the word “zachor” (remember).
Mishlo’ach Manot– Sending portions of food to friends to celebrate the holiday; also referred to as “Shalach Monos“.
Rosh Hashanah – Literally: the “head of the year”; the New Year.
High Holy Days – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Also known as the “High Holidays” or “the Holidays”.
Shofar – Ram’s horn.
Chet – Literally: “missing the mark”; a Hebrew term for sin.
Teshuvah – Literally: “returning”; a Hebrew term for repentance.
Selichot – Penitential prayers.
Tashlich – Traditional ceremony in which individuals symbolically cast their sins into a body of water.
L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu – New Year greeting meaning “May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year,” sometimes shortened to “Shanah Tovah“.
Yom Tov – Literally: “a good day”.The term has come to mean “holiday”. It is often pronounced Yuntiff and the standard holiday greeting is “Good Yuntiff”.
Gemar Chatimah Tovah – Literally: “May you finally be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for good”. After Rosh Hashanah and through Yom Kippur, this greeting is used.
Shabbat – Sabbath.
Shabbos – Yiddish and Ashkenazic Hebrew pronunciation for the Sabbath.
Kodesh – Holy.
Kavanah – Intention.
Mitzvah – Commandments.
Minyan – Quorum of ten necessary for public worship.
Challah – Braided egg bread, for Shabbat and festivals.
Kiddush – Blessing recited or chanted over wine, emphasizing the holiness of Shabbat and festivals.
Tzedakah Box (Pushke in Yiddish) – Container for collecting money for charitable purposes. It is customary to give tzedakah prior to candlelighting in the home.
Shavuot – Literally: “weeks”. This festival occurs seven weeks after Pesach.
Confirmation – Ceremony marking completion of the religious school courses, often held on Shavuot.
Simchat Torah – Literally: “Joy of the Torah.”Holiday marking the conclusion of the yearly cycle of Torah readings and the beginning of the new cycle.
Torah – Literally: “teaching.”In a narrow sense it is the Five Books of Moses, hand-written on a parchment scroll. In a broad sense, it is everything which flows from this (i.e. Judaism).
TaNaCH – Acronym for Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings)- the three sections of the Hebrew Bible.
Bimah – The raised platform in the synagogue where the Torah is read.
Aliyah -Literally: “going up”; the honor of being called to recite the blessings over the Torah.
Parashah – The weekly Torah portion.
Shemini Atseret – Literally: “the eighth day of assembly”; conclusion of Sukot.
Sukkot – Feast of Booths. Name of one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals.
Sukah (pl. Sukot) – Booths, hut, or tabernacle covered with branches and decorated with hanging fruit, vegetables, and other decorations.
Ushpizin – Mythic guests invited to the sukkah.
Lulav– Palm branch, with myrtle and willow sprigs attached.
Etrog – Citron.
Yom HaAtzma-ut – Literally: “Day of Independence”; Israeli Independence Day.
Diaspora – Jewish communities outside of Israel.
Galut – Exile.
Zionism – The belief that there should be a Jewish homeland in Zion (Israel).
Yom HaShoah – Literally: “Holocaust Day.” A day set aside to remember the Holocaust and to honor the memory of those who perished.Shtetl (pl. Shtetlach) – A small Jewish village in Eastern Europe.
Yiddish – Judeo-German; the everyday language of the Jews of Eastern Europe.
Mamaloshen – Literally: “mother language”; affectionate term for Yiddish.
Pogrom – Organized attach on the Jewish community.
Shabbat Shuvah – Sabbath of Return, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It gets its name from its haftarah which begins “Shuvah Yisrael, Return, O Israel” (Hosea 14:2).
Kol Nidrei – Literally: all vows. Opening prayer for Yom Kippur eve.
Yizkor – Memorial service recited on Yom Kippur, as well as the last days of Sukot, Pesach, and Shavuot.
Yahrzheit Candle – Memorial candle lit on the anniversary of a loved one’s death and also on those days when Yizkor is recited.
Find more interfaith family resources on the Union’s Department of Outreach and Membershipwebsite.