Tisha B’av Observed in Israel; Restaurants and Cinemas Closed

Hundreds of government employees were absent from work today to take part in observance of Tisha B’av which began at dusk yesterday as all cinemas and eating places closed while worshippers streamed into synagogues.

Thousands made the pilgrimage to Mount Zion, the nearest spot to the Wailing Wall in the old city of Jerusalem, to commemorate the date of the destruction of the first and second Temples in Israel’s ancient capital. The Wailing Wall, the only remnant of the Temple, remains inaccessible to Israeli Jews for the tenth year, despite a provision of the Israeli-Jordanian Mixed Armistice Agreement permitting visits to hold places in Jordan-held Old Jerusalem.

Numerous Jews maintained a nightlong vigil with chanting of Lamentations and Psalms. During the day the pilgrimages to Mount Zion continued and Jerusalem shops remained closed.

The Fast of Tisha B’av was ushered in at the “Rock of Destruction” a mountain near Eshtaol, a .West Jerusalem village where mass readings of Lamentations took place. According to tradition, the Rock was being brought to Jerusalem when porters saw the smoke of the burning Temple and left the Rock at that spot.

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