How to commemorate Tisha B’Av with your students

This week, from Saturday night until Sunday night, the Jewish people across the globe are going to mourn the loss of the Holy Temple from two thousand years ago. Tisha B’Av (the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av) is a day of communal mourning in the Jewish calendar and is considered the saddest day in the Jewish year.

According to Jewish tradition, throughout the centuries, many tragedies befell the Jewish people on the 9th of Av, including the destruction of the First and Second Temples. The rabbis designated the 9th of Av as the day that Jews would remember all of these distressing events (read more about the origins of Tisha B’Av).

If you want to engage your students in the history and themes of this day, we’ve compiled a list of Unpacked for Educators resources you can use. Use the content and accompanying lesson plans below to teach your students about Tisha B’Av and its ongoing relevance for us in 2022.

  1. “What is the meaning of Tisha B’Av in 2022?” (article) — In a time when there is a modern Jewish state with Jerusalem as the capital, why should we continue to fast and mourn on Tisha B’Av? What is the meaning behind these mourning practices for us today? Use this Weekly article to teach your students about the origins of the day, why the Temple was destroyed according to Jewish tradition, and what we are really mourning about.

  2. Faces of the Holocaust (video series) —Although there is a separate, designated day for remembering the Holocaust (Yom HaShoah), because Tisha B’Av is a day for commemorating Jewish disasters throughout history, many mourn the 6 million Jewish lives lost in the Shoah on this day. Use our “Faces of the Holocaust” series to explore this history through the four main human paradigms of the period — the Upstander, Bystander, Victim and Perpetrator.

  3. Antisemitism, Explained (video series) — ​​Why is it that even post-Holocaust, Jews experience a large percentage of the world’s hate crimes, despite being less than 0.2% of the world’s population? When does criticism of Israel cross the line into antisemitism? Use this video series to help your students understand the many facets of antisemitism and its roots, and how to recognize anti-Jewish hate as it manifests today.

  4. “Exile and the lost tribes of Israel” (video) — Use this video and the accompanying resources to teach your students the history of the destruction of the First Temple. Since the death of King Solomon, two Jewish kingdoms had lived side by side: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. This lesson focuses on a period of about 150 years, beginning in the late 8th century BCE. It was the beginning of the end for the Jews’ first experience in living as an independent nation.

  5. “Judea under Roman rule” (video) — Use this video and the accompanying resources to teach your students the history of the destruction of the Second Temple. The Roman army arrived on the shores of the Holy Land in 63 BCE. About 135 years later, the Temple in Jerusalem lay in ruins and the third and most enduring expulsion of the Jews from their homeland was underway. This lesson explores the legacy of the failed revolts against the Roman occupation and the lessons this presents for Jews to this day.

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