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Model of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in a Bottle

Moses Formstecher (1760-1836)
Offenbach (Germany), 1813
  • Glass: half-post blown; wood: painted; metal
  • 11 1/4 x 5 in. (28.6 x 12.7 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Bial, JM 21-79a
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Model of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in a Bottle

Tisha b'Av (the 9th day of the Hebrew month Av) is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. It commemorates the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. A number of other tragedies befell the Jewish people on this date as well, including the expulsion from Spain in 1492.

Tisha b'Av is the culmination of a three-week period of mourning that begins on the 17th day of Tammuz, the date on which both the Babylonians and the Romans first breached the walls of Jerusalem. During these three weeks, many Jews refrain from cutting their hair or participating in joyous celebrations. In the final nine days leading up to Tisha b'Av, it is traditional not to eat meat or drink wine. Tisha b'Av itself is a full day of fasting. In the synagogue, the Book of Lamentations is chanted as members of the community sit on the floor or on low benches to reflect the spirit of mourning.