Question: Can Conservative Jews get married on Tisha B'Av?
I was raised as a Conservative Jew. We were planning our wedding for August 14, 2005, which I just learned falls on Tisha B'Av. As I read about this holiday, I find that the Orthodox view of how it should be observed is much different from the Reform, who do not seem to recognize it at all. What is the Conservative view of Tisha B'Av? Is a wedding on that day prohibited? Would you, as a conservative rabbi, not want to conduct a wedding ceremony on that day?
Answer: Dear B,
Thanks for writing and Mazal Tov.
Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av, has been observed probably since the destruction of the Second Temple on that date in 70 CE. It is unfortunate that many of our Religious Schools don't teach children enough about this day of mourning.
It is often called the "Black Fast" in contrast to Yom Kippur, the "White Fast," because it truly deals with a number of tragedies in Jewish history various counted. Here is a compilation:
- During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 12 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)
- The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)
- The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)
- The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar -- the Jews' last stand against the Romans -- was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE)
- The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city -- renamed Aelia Capitolina -- and access was forbidden to Jews.
- The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B'Av in 1492.
- World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
- On the eve of Tisha B'Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
I do not conduct weddings on that date out of respect for those tragedies, losses in history, a need to educate each generation about our history - both our triumphs and our griefs, and out of respect for guests who do understand and appreciate the need to not celebrate a wedding on that day.
Ultimately, though, your rabbi with whom you are planning your wedding is the best authority. Perhaps an option is to have the wedding in the evening after the fast ends.
Best Wishes and Mazal Tov,
Rabbi DovMore Judaism Q&A