January 5th 2017
In the Jewish calendar, the month of Tevet (roughly December—January) contains a minor fast. Held on the 10th day of the month (Assara B’Tevet), this year the solemn day falls out on January 8th, and it is meant to commemorate the siege that Nebuchadnezzar laid around Jerusalem during his rule over Babylon. Being aware of the customs and some of the modern traditions of the day will help tourists be more respectful and even more appreciative of their time spent in Israel during this occasion. Here are some dos and don’ts of Assara B’Tevet in Israel.
The fast is a minor one, and many people, including women, children, or those feeling ill, do not even fast. Assara B’Tevet begins at dawn on January 8th and ends at nightfall of the same day. While in most cities it is business as usual, certainly in the more orthodox circles tourists should be respectful of this day of fasting.
Commemorating the fast of Tevet is that much more meaningful when you bring it back to prayer, one of Judaism’s core themes. Visit any of the gorgeous synagogues sprinkled throughout the country, and say a few words of heartfelt supplication over the fall and rebirth of our nation’s capital.
Yad Vashem’s Evening of Contemplation
In order to raise awareness of this day’s significance to the Jewish people, the world-renowned Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, is hosting an Evening of Contemplation. The event is open to the public, admission is free (though you should register to make sure you get a seat), and both a musical accompaniment and well-noted author/speaker Haim Sabato, founder of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe, will be present. One catch, the evening will be held in Hebrew, but hey, this is a great time to brush up on those rusty Ulpan skills!
The evening will take place January 4th at 7 PM.
What better way to remember the tragedy of losing Jerusalem than to celebrate its rebirth? Visit the Israel Museum for an in-depth and multi-sensory perspective on the history of this beautiful city.