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Tisha B'Ab

Tisha B’Ab, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in ancient Jerusalem. Over the years, this day has also come to remind us of other historic tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.


For Tisha B’Ab, the Reader’s Desk and Holy Ark are draped in black. The evening and morning services are conducted from a special table—also draped in black—rather than from the Reader’s Desk. The synagogue lights are dimmed, so that congregants follow services with small flashlights. The melodies of Tisha B’Ab are somber and deeply moving. 


The afternoon service on the day of Tisha B’Ab takes on an optimistic air. We focus on Isaiah’s words of consolation to the Jewish people: Nahamu nahamu ami, be comforted, be comforted My people. The Almighty has promised that Israel will be consoled and redeemed. The service closes with a crescendo of biblical verses, sung by the Hazzan and Congregation that speak of the restoration of Jerusalem and the redemption of the people of Israel. The fast day which had begun so somberly is now transformed by thoughts of consolation and redemption.

Benjamin N. Cardozo

Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Nathan Cardozo spoke of the need for the Congregation to maintain its historic traditions and to remain true to the customs and practices of the generations that had come before.

West 11th Street Cemetery

The West Eleventh Street cemetery, the second historic cemetery of Congregation Shearith Israel, was consecrated on February 27, 1805.