Religious : : Religious Committee Report

There is a Jewish holiday on our calendar this month and if you’re like me, you are probably not familiar with it. It is the 17th of Tammuz and it is a minor fast day. However, it is a pretty significant day on our Hebrew calendar.

The 17th of Tammuz is the start of the three-week mourning period prior to Tisha B’Av when we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the two Holy Temples. Five tragic events occurred on the 17th of Tammuz:

• Moses broke the two tablets of the Ten Commandments in anger when he came down from Mount Sinai and saw the Jewish people (our ancestors) worshipping the Golden Calf.

• During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Jews were forced to stop offering the daily sacrifice due to the lack of sheep necessary for the sacrifice.

• Prior to Bar Kochba’s revolt a Roman general, Apostomos, burned a Torah scroll.

• An idol was place in the Holy Temple.

• The walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 C.E. after a lengthy siege. It was three weeks later on the 9th (Tisha) of Av that the Romans destroyed the second Temple.

You can see that these are all significant events in our history.

The 17th of Tammuz is a minor fast day, meaning that unlike Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, we do not fast for a full (25 hours) day. Minor fasts require us to abstain from eating or drinking between dawn and night- fall. This is required of healthy adults, post Bar or Bat Mitzvah age. It is permitted to wake up early before the fast to eat as long as that was one’s intention prior to going to sleep. Selichot prayers are recited during the morning services and Avinu Malkeinu during the morning and afternoon prayers. The Torah is read in the morning and afternoon. The portion for both services is Exodus 32:11-14 and 34:1-10 which discusses the Golden Calf incident and how Moses successfully interceded with God on the Israelites’ behalf and was able to secure God’s forgiveness for the Israelites for this sin.

As you see, even if we didn’t know much about the 17th of Tammuz, it is an important date in our history. We also can see why it is the beginning of “the three weeks” prior to Tisha B’Av and why it is a time of mourning. Let’s remember this date and its significance in our history.

We hope to see you at shul on Shabbat morning and/or via zoom,

Sandy Shapiro & Arnold Miller