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17th of Tammuz and Tisha B'Av


The 17th of Tammuz and The Three Weeks

Our tradition teaches that on 17 Tammuz, we alter our routines to access the historic and mythic grief of our people, and the brokenness of our present world. On this day, Moshe broke the Tablets, and the Romans broke through the walls of Jerusalem.  We begin the Three Weeks leading to Tisha B'Av.

Click here for a brief overview. Click here for an examination of the halachic sources and of why the fast days still matter.

The fast for 2020/5780 begins Thursday July 9 at 3:46 AM and ends at 9:19 PM (Washington Heights & Inwood times).

FTJC will hold services on Zoom: Shacharit at 8:00 AM and Minchah at 1:40 PM. 

Those who are pregnant, nursing, ill, or have a medical condition that prevents fasting at all, are exempt and should not fast. Likewise anyone who begins the fast but becomes unable to continue should break the fast. This caution is particularly important in the heat of summer. Meanwhile, one who fasts should take care not to advertise it for one’s own glory!

Other practices that could enhance one's observance of 17 Tammuz might include: Fasting until the time for Minchah (12:23 PM); reading the special Torah portion (Ex. 32:11-14, 34:1-10) or Haftarah (Isa. 55:6-56:8) to yourself; avoiding lighthearted entertainment; taking in a depressing book or movie about Jewish history; recommitting to ending "sinat chinam" (gratuitous hatred) in our communities and society.

In the Three Weeks from 17 Tammuz to Tisha B'Av, traditional practices include avoiding public celebrations, concerts, and haircuts.

The Nine Days

The Nine Days begin with Rosh Chodesh Av (Tuesday night July 21 and Wednesday July 22) and continue through Tisha B'Av (Wednesday night July 29 and Thursday July 30). To carry us into an atmosphere of mourning, traditional practices for the Nine Days include:  avoiding public celebrations, concerts, and haircuts; refraining from luxuries such as meat, wine, shaving, new clothes, and laundry (except for children's needs). The restrictions on meat and wine are suspended on Shabbat.

Tisha B'Av - Fast of the Ninth of Av

Traditional practices for Tisha B'Av include: refraining from eating, drinking, sexual relations, oils and perfumes, bathing (except minimal washing to remove dirt or after using the toilet), studying Torah (except for books like Lamentations and Job), wearing leather shoes, and greeting one another (especially with the word "shalom"). These restrictions begin at sunset (8:14 PM). Prayer services are conducted in a quiet undertone without singing. 

Fasting on Tisha B'Av is a mitzvah for all Jews over the age of b'nei mitzvah who are able to do so. Those who have a medical condition that prevents fasting at all should eat and/or drink as needed. Those who are able to fast for at least part of the day should continue for as long as they can, then should eat and/or drink as needed.

At 8:15 PM on Wednesday July 29, we will gather on Zoom for Ma'ariv (evening prayers), the reading of Eichah (Lamentations), and chanting of Kinot (dirge poems). We encourage you to have with you a copy of Eichah, and a flashlight. It is customary to sit on the bare floor, but those unable to do so are encouraged to sit on a small cushion or a chair.

On the morning of Tisha B'Av, Thursday July 30, we will gather on Zoom for Shacharit (8:00 AM) and Minchah (1:40 PM). Tallit and tefillin are not worn at Shacharit, but are worn at Minchah (earliest time 1:40 PM) as the liturgical mood begins to shift toward consolation. 

This year, there are many online options for study and action, including:

Hadar Institute - Yom Iyun: Day of Learning for Tisha B'Av

Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies - Live panel: "Jewish Tradition as it Adapts and Resists Disruption/Destruction"

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) - Tisha B'Av of Teshuvah: Mourning the Destruction of Black Lives

Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) - Learning Materials for Tisha B'Av

T'ruah, HIAS, and others -- Jews Say Free them All: Tisha B'Av action for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

Other practices that could enhance one's observance of Tisha B'Av might include: Fasting until the time for Minchah (1:40 PM); reading upsetting parts of the Bible (Lamentations, Job, prophetic rebukes) or rabbinic literature on the destruction of the Temples; reading books or watching films about other tragedies in Jewish history; reflecting on the role of our own misdeeds and "sinat chinam" (gratuitous hatred) in contributing to our suffering; and turning our minds toward teshuvah (return, repentance) as we approach the High Holidays just seven weeks away.

The restrictions on meat and wine continue until midday on the following day, the 10th of Av (Friday July 31), because tradition holds that the Temple ruins still smoldered until then.

Questions? Feel free to e-mail Rabbi Guy.

Tisha B'Av Food Drive

As we prepare for and observe the fast of Tisha B'Av, please join FTJC in supporting the kosher food pantry at the JCC of Washington Heights & Inwood by donating non-perishable canned or packaged food, unopened and unexpired, with kosher symbols. (No junk food, please!) Donations can be brought for contactless dropoff to 121 Bennett Ave, ground floor, to the right of the entrance. Buzzer is 111 and then the bell sign. Hours are 9:30-5, or 12:30 on Fridays. Call the office when you come and let them know you're leaving the food at the office door: 212-568-5450. Financial donations also welcome to enable the JCC to purchase the food items they need: via website at or using Chase Quickpay to


Sat, September 26 2020 8 Tishrei 5781