Image: Stones of the Western Wall, or Kotel in Jerusalem. (ddouk/pixabay)
It’s a trick question: on Tisha B’Av, Jews observing the day refrain from greeting one another. If someone who does not know the custom greets them, they will either simply incline their heads or answer the greeting very softly, so as not to give offense or hurt feelings. As with Yom Kippur, it is a solemn day and therefore it is inappropriate to say “Happy Tisha B’Av.”
However, there are some Hebrew words it will help to know if you attend services or interact with other Jews that day:
Tisha B’Av (tee-SHAH b’AHV) or (TISH-ah Bahv) – The Ninth of Av, on which we remember the destruction of the Temple and other disasters in Jewish history.
Av (AHV) – The eleventh month of the Jewish year.
Eicha (AY-khah) – A Hebrew word meaning “How?” it is also the name of the Book of Lamentations in the Bible.
Megillat Eicha (meh-gee-LAHT AY-khah) – the Scroll of Lamentations, which we read on Tisha B’Av.
Megillah – a scroll, especially one of the “Five Scrolls” read on certain days of the Jewish Year.
Tzom (TZOHM) – a fast. The fast for Tisha B’Av is from sunset to sunset. Those who keep the fast refrain from eating, drinking, sexual activity, anointing, wearing leather shoes, and studying Torah. It is similar to the fast for Yom Kippur. Just as on that day, children and people who are sick or pregnant should not fast.
Beit Hamikdash (BAYT ha-mik-DAHSH) – The Holy Temple. The first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans.
The Kotel (KOH-tel) – The Western Wall, a retaining wall that is all that remains of the Second Temple. Jews do not refer to it as the “wailing wall,” but as the Western Wall or the Kotel.