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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Ninth of Av: a Roman Coin and some Photos


"Tiferet Yisrael" 2010 Heddy Abramowitz


The reading of Lamentations on Tisha B’Av  has been observed by Jews over millennia, describing the sorrow of dispersion from their land, the destruction of the Temple(s) and the devastation of their people. Custom includes sitting on the floor or low stools, reading in reduced light by candlelight (now by flashlights as well) and the scroll or text is read in a funereal chant.

These readings take place in synagogues and in Israel, since there is no risk of cancellation due to rain all summer, in outdoor parks, including those which overlook the Old City, and at archaeological sites.

"Reading Eicha" 2010 Heddy Abramowitz

   
In the Jewish Quarter, there is no lack of options for places to observe this custom. Readings take place in every synagogue, including the newly rebuilt Hurva synagogue, at the the Kotel (Western Wall), on Mount Zion at the traditional site of the Tomb of King David, in yeshivot, and other places as well.

Many Jewish Quarter residents choose to read this scroll at the site of the Tiferet Israel synagogue, a ruin of the synagogue that was destroyed in the War of Independence in 1948. It is located just behind the main street that brings visitors to the Kotel, and it is tucked between two well-known archaeological sites that are connected to the Destruction of Jerusalem from 70 C.E., the Burnt House and the Herodian Palace, both of which still bear a layer of ash from the day in that year that those sites were burned in the devastation.

Here are a few of my photos from a previous reading at the Tiferet Israel synagogue. I think it is a special atmosphere.


"Tisha B'Av in the Jewish Quarter" 2010 Heddy Abramowitz

"Tisha B'Av at Tiferet Israel" 2010 Heddy Abramowitz
"Eicha Reader" 2010 Heddy Abramowitz


Since I started with archaeology,  I will end with it as well. Upon conquering Jerusalem, the Romans struck a series of coins called “Judea Capta” (Judea is the name of the geographic area where Jerusalem is located), meaning Judea captured. Though there were a number of varieties, this one is typical, from the collection of the Jewish Museum, showing an exiled Jewess mourning beneath a Roman tribute.


Rome, 71 C.E. gold, The Jewish Museum (photo Ardon Bar Hama)

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