Tisha B’Av and the Rebirth of Israel
Book Excerpt – I Am Cyrus: Harry S. Truman and the Rebirth of Israel
Chapter One: The Jewish Diaspora
The Jewish Exile
Jewish religious law and cultural traditions became the common bond among Jews in the Diaspora. These keepsakes were passed from generation to generation. Some of the most famous and important Jewish texts were composed at this time, including the Jerusalem Talmud and the completion of the Mishnah.
Although the temple had been destroyed, Judaism survived. Priests were replaced by rabbis and the synagogue became the focus of religious life. The small remaining Jewish community in Palestine gradually recovered, strengthened occasionally by returning exiles. By the sixth century, forty-three Jewish communities existed in Palestine.
Despite continual persecution, a Jewish remnant remained in or near Jerusalem for all the years of the Diaspora. Known as Neturei Karta, these pious guardians of the Jewish Scriptures and culture lived as close to the sacred temple grounds as they were able.
But the majority of Jews were scattered to the ends of the earth.
Today, Jews around the world commemorate and mourn the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people on Tisha B’Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av. Coincidentally, many of these major tragedies in Jewish history occurred on the ninth of Av. Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 423 B.C.E.; the second by the Romans in 69 C.E.).
In synagogues around the world, the Book of Lamentations is read on Tisha B’Av, and mourning prayers are recited. The ark where the Torah is kept is draped in black.
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