Tisha B’Av for the Traditional Tourist

July 30th 2017

Tisha B’Av is not a happy time to be a Jew. Aside from the fact that it is literally the hardest fast in the calendar (a full 25 hours in the heat of the summer), it marks several memorable tragedies that occurred to the Jewish people throughout history, including the destruction of both temples. So, naturally, it isn’t the most enjoyable time to be on vacation in Israel. The good news is that upon its conclusion, the end of Tisha B’Av marks the beginning of a particularly joyous time for everyone: boys’ schools start summer vacation, adults begin preparation for the upcoming holidays, and everyone sighs a big sigh of relief.

So, if you’re in Israel this Tisha B’Av, here’s what you can do to survive the day of mourning.

What to Do

Even if you aren’t observing the fasting aspect of Tisha B’Av, if you’d like to join in the spirit of the day, here are a few activities you can participate in:

Visiting the Western Wall. As the last remnant of the Holy Temple, the Western Wall is an appropriate place to be on Tisha B’Av. The square is usually filled with Israelis and tourists pouring heartfelt supplications out onto the ancient stones.

Join in the reading of the Book of Lamentations at a local synagogue. This is also a good way to get some sightseeing in while you’re at it. There are beautiful synagogues in nearly every city in Israel, many with historical or religious significance.

Visit one of the holy sites such as the Cave of the Patriarchs or Rachel’s Tomb.

Experience the moving exhibits at Yad Vashem holocaust museum.

Technical Details

Public transportation runs regularly on Tisha B’Av

Many stores and restaurants are not open. This is especially relevant for the religious neighborhoods. Other areas such as Tel Aviv and Eilat will be open as usual.

However, during the night of Tisha B’Av, many establishments are closed out of respect for the prominence of the day.

Tisha B’Av falls out in July/August each year, which means it is generally extremely hot. If you’re planning to participate in the fasting, be sure to take it easy throughout the day, don’t plan any tours or strenuous activities, and avoid being outdoors for the duration of the fast.

Now that the mourning period is over, it’s time for some fun! Check out our comprehensive guide to having fun in Israel this summer!