On Tisha b’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both Holy Temples, tens of thousands packed the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem to observe the annual day of mourning.
Tens of thousands of people thronged to the Western Wall as well as to other centers around the country Saturday night and Sunday to mark Tisha b’Av, the annual commemoration of the destruction of ancient Jerusalem.
According to Jewish tradition, Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar on this date on the Hebrew calendar in 586 BCE. Six-and-a-half centuries later, Roman invaders sacked the city anew and burnt the rebuilt Temple to the ground, also on ninth day of Av.
At the Western Wall plaza, thousands of people sat on the floor, a traditional sign of mourning, recited liturgical poems in praise of the Temple and chanted the biblical Book of Lamentations, a passionate expression of grief over the destruction, traditionally ascribed to the Prophet Jeremiah.
Elsewhere in the Old City, three minors were arrested overnight for holding a prayer vigil adjacent to the Temple Mount, while several hundred held a flag march around the Old City walls, adding a political element to the event by calling for Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
Across town, groups of secular and observant Israelis marked the occasion with dialogue groups on a variety of subjects, with the goal of fostering civil conversation in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.
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