Daily Israel Report

MDA: How to Fast Safely

Israel's first-response team explains how to get through the Tisha B'Av fast safely.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/7/2011, 10:50 PM

The Western Wall on Tisha B'Av
The Western Wall on Tisha B'Av
Israel news photo

On Monday evening, Jews worldwide will observe Tisha B'Av, a day of mourning marked by an all-day fast. In Israel, the fast will begin at 7:32 p.m. Monday and conclude at 7:59 p.m. Tuesday.

Tisha B'Av is the anniversary of the destruction of both the First and Second Temple, and is the date of many other tragedies that took place over the course of Jewish history as well.

Magen David Adom has released recommendations for fasting, in order to help the public get through the day safely. MDA paramedics often treat dozens of people for dehydration on major fast days; they will be present this year at the Western Wall (Kotel) to assist the many worshipers there in case of need.

The recommendations are as follows:

Before the fast: Drink large quantities of liquid before the fast, preferably at least one and a half liters in the hours beforehand. Reduce consumption of caffeinated beverages, and of sweet or salty foods that can increase the feeling of thirst.

The last meal before the fast should include a mix of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and vegetables.

The elderly or ill: Those who are elderly or ill should discuss fasting with a doctor. Those suffering from a variety of illnesses, including but not limited to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, must take their medicine as usual during the fast.  

During the fast: Those fasting are advised to remain in cool, shaded areas. They should be on alert for signs of dehydration, and should dial 101 for emergency help if they experience signs of dehydration such as extreme weakness, chest pain, sudden heavy sweating, or difficulty breathing.

Ending the fast: Breaking the fast is best done by drinking liquids accompanied by a small snack, such as a piece of cake or a slice of bread with cheese. After one hour, a light meal can be eaten.