Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In Eicha, Jeremiah’s description of Jerusalem’s fall and the destruction of the First Temple is raw and suffused with the horrors and grief that befell the Jewish people. It is in and of itself one long kinah, dirge. But the almost 50 liturgical poems we read across Tisha B’Av (ascribed to various rabbis) take us on a bitter journey beyond the destruction of the first and second Temples to other tragic events connected with the ninth of Av: the sin of the Spies, 135 CE fall of Beitar, death of the martyred rabbis during the Hadrianic persecution, razing of the Temple Mount, Crusades, 13th century burning of the Talmud in Paris, and the 1492 expulsion from Spain.

And for those who ask if the Holocaust should be included as part of the kinnot, we can take to heart what Rabbi Yisrael Zev Gustman (20th century) once said. He “witnessed in the Vilna Ghetto all of the atrocities mentioned in the Tisha B’Av kinnot,” including seeing his six year old son Meir murdered in front of his eyes.


It’s a reminder to us what these kinnot represent. They aren’t meant to be quickly scanned, but rather require us to take the time to read, reflect and connect to our national tragedies, both thousands of years ago and even in contemporary times.


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Rabbanit Dr. Adena Berkowitz, a practicing therapist, is Scholar in Residence at Kol HaNeshamah NYC, Senior Educator at MJE and author of The Jewish Journey Haggadah.