Some thoughts on Tisha B’Av & Books

When I decided I wanted to write a kid’s book about Jewish Summertime themes, I steered clear of Tisha B’av. Even though the 3 weeks, 9 days and two fasts are a large block of the Summer, the themes of tragedy seemed too weighty, too sad, and frankly too uncomfortable. I instead focused on camp, swimming and sun.


But maybe that was a little cowardly of me. Tisha B’av is out national day of mourning, and our memories bind us as a nation. Maybe shielding our children from the sadness and reality of our history does them a disservice.


There are so many terrible tragedies that the kinot prayers  list and recount, from the inquisition, to the holocaust, from the destruction of Jerusalem and it’s souls to those that perished in the Crusades. As a book maker, it is always remarkable that a kinah is set aside for the loss of an inanimate object–books.


As a modern person who values books, I still had trouble understanding why the loss of books deserved it’s own Kinnah.

In her book, “In the Narrow Places”, Erica Brown helped me understand. She writes:


“…in 1240 the Pope ordered the Talmud itself be  put on trial ..the Talmud was found guilty. Twenty -four cartloads of Talmud volumes were burned, decimating Jewish scholarship in France. In those days before he advent of the printing press, all books were hand copied- an arduous task which helps us understand the momentousness of this act of destruction. Every word lovingly written went up in smoke, effectively killing hthe act of study for thousands…In France, the people of the book had no books….”.


How wealthy we are today with our homes full of books, and our kindles and nooks. But how much we lost in our past when those books went up in smoke. Some of those books were one of a kind commentaries, that still have never been recovered and are gone for all time….


Wishing everyone an easy and meaningful fast.



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