Thousands of people came to the Kotel Monday night to mark Tisha B'av, commemorating the destruction of the Holy Temples, Jerusalem, and the Jewish commonwealth. This year marks 1,943 years since the Second Temple's destruction.
Tisha B'Av is the culmination of the Three Weeks period of mourning, in which Jews contemplate the loss to them – and to the world – of the two Holy Temples. For many Jews, Tisha B'av is a true day of mourning, with many taking on the laws and customs of mourners mandated for this day – refraining from learning Torah (which causes joy), sitting on the floor, walking without leather shoes, refraining from bathing and not even greeting others. The day is also a 25 hour fast, beginning Monday evening and extending through Tuesday after sundown.
Jews all over the world read the Book of Eicha, Lamentations, a Biblical book written by Jeremiah the Prophet, in whose time the First Temple was destroyed at the hands of the Babylonians. Although Babylon is long gone, Jews still remember the destruction vividly, and the Book of Eicha discusses the conditions that prevailed during the destruction, and reflects on the reasons that it happened. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.
Many Jews will spend the entire night and day next to the Kotel, the last remaining remnant of the Second Temple compound, praying for the rebuilding of the holy edifice, where today stands a mosque. Many people are also expected to attend a special march around the walls of the Old City Monday night, and to tour the Temple Institute's museum, where real-life replicas of many of the items that were in use in the Temple are on display.