The Adams Street Shul

Congregation Agudas Achim Anshei Sfard

pushkeWith the somber Days of Awe and the exhilarating festival of Succot and Simchat Torah still casting their beautiful and inspirational rays over us, we have now reached the month of Cheshvan.

colorful DreidelIt is a well-known fact that there is nothing secret about the Jewish religion. All our books, lectures and worship gatherings are open to all those who wish to avail themselves of them. On the other hand, we are also not required to publicize and openly proclaim and display our religious activities.  The one and only exception to this rule is the lighting of the Chanukah candles.

ImageThursday, December 31, 2006, is the English date of the Fast of Asarah B-Tevet, which means the tenth of Tevet. It is a comparatively “minor” fast day, insofar as it is not as famous as, for example, Yom Kippur and Tisha B-Av. The fast, which begins at dawn, commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, culminating in the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the first Holy Temple.

This day has taken on a far greater significance over the past years, since it was declared to be the official day of mourning for the millions of our brothers and sisters who died in the Shoah, but whose dates of death are unknown. Sadly, I have many such relatives, so I light a Yahrzeit candle or them and say Kaddish on this day.

10-tammuzLast Thursday was the fast of Shiva Assar B-Tamuz (“The Seventeenth Day of Tamuz”) which commemorates the breach in the walls of Jerusalem made by the Babylonians. It was exactly three weeks later that Jerusalem and the Holy Temple fell to the enemy. We commemorate these tragic events by abstaining from joyful activities and fasting on the day just mentioned, as well as on Tisha B-Av.

But this mourning is mixed with great hope because our belief is firm that our people will all return to their ancient homeland, the Holy Temple will be rebuilt, and peace will come to Israel and the whole world.