Tisha B’Av is a solemn fast day marking the destruction of the First Temple (586 BCE) and Second Temple (67 CE) in Jerusalem as well as numerous other calamities that befell the Jewish people, such as the Crusades and the Holocaust.
The holiday begins at sunset on the eighth of the Hebrew month of Av and concludes at nightfall the following day. To observe this day of mourning, Jews abstain from food, water and sources of joy. They customarily recite traditional dirges called kinot and chant the biblical Book of Lamentations, where the prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of its inhabitants.
Jews also study the prophecy of Zechariah, who foresaw a future when fast days like Tisha B’Av would transform into days of celebration. In many ways, his prophecy is the underlying theme of the holiday. Despite a world ripe with brokenness and pain, a better future is possible. More importantly, every Jewish person has a role to play in building that future.