Saturday, August 09, 2008


[Last year’s Tisha b’Av post is here. And the Tisha b’Av edition of Haveil Havalim (the Jewish Carnival of the Vanities, now in its 177th installment) is up at Simply Jews.]

Tisha b’Av

Yes, Esteemed Readers - tonight marks the beginning of Tisha b’Av, one of the most important Jewish sacred observances.

Jews all over the world will observe this day by following the time-honored rituals of our faith. We will decorate the Tisha b’Av tree with ornaments carved from kosher salami. We will hide colored eggs on our lawns and send the children to search for them, a task made especially challenging by the fact that the eggs are, in keeping with ancient tradition, colored black. We will eat of the flesh of the swine, this being the one day of the year when dining on pork is not just permissible, it is a holy obligation. [Most people are unaware that Manischewitz makes a bacon-flavored Concord wine for this most special of occasions.]

After dinner, we dress in costumes - Herschel Potter is a particular favorite these days - and go throughout the neighborhood, knocking on doors. When our neighbors answer, we shout, “Tish Tush, we want some mush!” and are given a steaming portion of cholent, that Jewish bean stew that makes our Sabbaths so fragrant.

Upon arising the next morning, the children gather around the Tisha b’Av tree and are given their gifts, all wrapped up in gaily colored Tisha-Paper. It is also a popular custom for people in love to exchange packets of Tisha b’Av chocolates. It’s said that a young girl can gauge her marriage prospects by the number and size of the kidney-shaped boxes that are delivered to her home in the days before the holiday.

I don’t know whether I’ll be able to sleep tonight on account of the excitement. The anticipation. It’s an anticipation that has been building over the last three weeks as, day by day, we’ve counted down to the holiday by opening the doors of our Tisha b’Av Advent Calendar and pulling out the tasty sweetmeats inside. Last night, I got a piece of chocolate babka on a toothpick!

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