Jews pray at the Western Wall
Jews pray at the Western Wall Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The fast of the tenth of Tevet begins Tuesday, marking the day the siege of Jerusalem began before the destruction of the First Temple and one of four half-day fasts throughout the Jewish calendar year. 

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared the tenth of Tevet a 'Day of general Kaddish,' the prayer over the dead - a day when the Jewish people includes in their prayers the Kaddish prayer for Holocaust victims whose exact day of death remains unknown. The El Malei Rachamim prayer is said in their memory. 

During the fast of Tevet - like two other half-day fasts over the destruction of the Temples, the seventeenth of Tammuz and the third of Tishrei - Jews do not eat nor drink from dawn until dusk.

On Tuesday, the fast began at 4;59 am local time (Alot HaShachar - first light), and will end at 5:02 pm in Jerusalem and 4:59 pm in Tel Aviv and Haifa. 

The day is seen as an opportunity to take stock of one's actions and repent, as well as to reflect on the current state of the Jewish people in light of the Temples' destructions. Several paragraphs are added to prayer relating to the fast, and the 'Vayechal Moshe' Torah portion is read.