Love is in the air – Tu B’Av

It’s today!  For lack of a better reference, Tu B’Av is Jewish Valentine’s Day.  The name is simply the date (tet vav = ט’ו = 15, pronounced too; Av is the Hebrew month).  It’s actually much older than Valentine’s Day and is shrouded in mystery, apparently.  In the olden days – the Second Temple Period – unmarried women in borrowed white dresses would go out to the fields and dance under the full moon of the 15th of Av.  Unmarried men would go out and choose a bride.  The borrowed white dresses ensured a level playing field for the women and men chose their brides based on personality rather than status.

Today, Israel has borrowed the romantic ideas of Valentine’s Day in the US, so chocolates are flying off the shelves and flowers are sold by the ton.  It’s considered a great day to get married, so venues are booked far in advance.

In a previous post, I wrote about Jerusalem’s Love Map .  Checking it again today, there are many more hearts and stories.

Jerusalem map

And since no one else in the world can see our special Google Doodle, here are some images (though they are actually tiny romantic animations).

doodle 2Doodledoodle 3

I’m compelled to share one hilarious element of the Google Doodle.  They spelled the holiday wrong.  When you click on it to get more information, the first site is the Google Doodle site, everything else is related to the show Ab Fab or it has to do with abdominal exercises. So if you want to find out more about Jewish Valentine’s Day, don’t be Google and spell it To Be’Ab, spell it Tu B’Av and get the right search results.

And finally, I leave you with the song that inspired the title, from one of the best movies ever, Strictly Ballroom.  Remember, a life lived in fear is a life half-lived!

Tisha B’Av and Dad’s birthday

On Sunday it will be Tisha B’Av – translated as the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av – and Israel will slow down a bit.  The 9th of Av is an unusual day in the Jewish calendar.  It commemorates the destruction of both Temples.  It’s a fast day and considered to be a day of mourning.  But many people in Israel kind of ignore it.  Employers offer it as one of the several days a person can choose to take off for religious purposes.  So a lot of people are still working – and according to religious laws, a person is allowed to work even if they are fasting.

For skeptics who wonder how it could be that both Temples were destroyed on the same day, well, it’s mostly a matter of odds.  In ancient times, you usually didn’t gather your armies in winter – Israel isn’t in the tropics, so we do have a winter – which eliminates at least 4 or 5 months.  In spring, you gather your armies and then you have to get to where you want to go, in this case Jerusalem.  By the time the end of July or early August rolls around, there’s a good chance you’ll reach your goal.  And because the Jewish calendar is lunar, the 9th of Av moves around.  So it’s possible that the First Temple fell on July 31 and the Second Temple fell on August 9, but they would still both be the 9th of Av. There are also those who go through history and point out all the terrible things that happened to the Jews on the 9th of Av.  Two often-cited examples are the expulsions of the Jews from Spain and England.

In Israel there are groups that march around the outside of the walls of the Old City and those who will likely ascend the Temple Mount on Sunday.  I hope it will be uneventful, but you never know.  The atmosphere in Israel is always combustible.

The day after the 9th of Av is Dad’s birthday.  Actually, I’m not sure how to say that correctly.  The day is still Dad’s birthday, but since he is no longer with us, maybe it’s more correct to say it in the past tense.  To me, it’s still in the present tense.  Monday is Dad’s birthday.  It will also be one of the “firsts” in the mourning year – the first time that I can’t call my Dad on his birthday.  His number is still in my phone, but it won’t connect, and for a minute I might say to myself, “Oh, he’s in a place where he doesn’t have cellular service.”  And that will be true.  Then I’ll have to remember that he won’t be answering at all.  That will be hard.

Like Tisha B’Av, it will be a mournful day, but one in which I’ll still work and I’ll keep moving forward.  As we all do even if our Temples, literal or symbolic, are destroyed.