Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Appropriate for Av 9

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For today's ABC Wednesday let "A" be for Av, for today is Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av.

As we saw in the previous post, this is a sad day on which many Jews fast and mourn the destruction of ancient Jerusalem and of her First and Second Temples.

Recently I explored the Romema neighborhood with its grand old houses, begun in 1921.

Something about this building--maybe the open door with the star of David or the sunlight on the old tiles or a sense of mystery--beckoned me to enter and go up the stairs.
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The house seemed to be shared by four families now.
Four apartments.

But what surprised and moved me even more was what I found on the wall, near the ceiling.
The Hebrew on the tiles translates to
A REMEMBRANCE OF THE DESTRUCTION [i.e. of the Temple]
IF I FORGET YOU O JERUSALEM, LET MY RIGHT HAND FORGET HER CUNNING [Psalm 137:5].
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The famous Psalm 137 illustrated!
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"By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
For there our captors required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
'Sing us one of the songs of Zion! . . . ' "
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This is so appropriate for today, Tisha B'Av, the day on which the Temple was destroyed and following which many of Jerusalem's Jews were taken to exile in Babylon!
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When I returned home from Romema, I Googled and made yet another moving discovery!
Aviva Bar-Am wrote this about this same house:
"Following the fall of the Second Temple, sages of the period declared that every new building must carry a reminder of that destruction: an unpainted area measuring one cubit by one cubit . . . . Many religious Jews take this edict literally and leave an unplastered or black square on their walls. The picture you see embedded into the wall of Fishman-Maimon’s residence--ceramic tiles showing the River of Babylon, harps and weeping willows--[is one of these]."
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Furthermore, our Museum of Italian Jewish Art shows an example in carved marble and says,
"Writings of this kind were common in Germany and Poland, while in Italian synagogues, as well as private houses, part of a wall was usually left unplastered in order to remember the destruction of the Temple."
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So . . . we remember and do not forget.
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UPDATE 2014: 
Another nice explanation is here, at Jewish Treats.
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35 comments:

JM said...

Thank you for letting us go with you on your visit.
The tiled floor could be portuguese! :-) Great information as usual.

Robin said...

What an appropriate find for the day. Very meaningful.

-----------------------------------
My photography is available for purchase - visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

lv2scpbk said...

I love looking at old houses.

On behalf of the ABC Wed. team, thanks for participating.

RuneE said...

I fell for that first photo of the open door and the light entering. It said a lot.

Gunn said...

Wow, this is soooo beautiful. The floor, the door, the colors and the light. -Thanks for sharing.-

jabblog said...

Most interesting and very appropriate, as you say.

Roger Owen Green said...

Do you know the reggae song Rivers of Babylon? It's based on Ps 137 as well- great song.

I just noticed - one can find lots of the letter A in a star of David.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

photowannabe said...

Amazing, beautiful and so touching.

signed...bkm said...

Wonderful pictures and lessons...thank you for sharing...it is always a blessing to learn new things...bkm

Anna said...

Beautiful and informative post! Love the images. You weave together the atmospere of the present with events and poetry of the past. Always inspiring to follow you on your visits to different parts of Jeruselem!

Best wishes
Anna

A is for Anna!

Carolyn Ford said...

I really like the first photo. That open door and the light filtering in is beautiful. The Star of David is stunning in the scene.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for this informative and beautiful post. The photos are great and witness these psalms.

Suzanne said...

Psalm 137 is such a beautiful Psalm, and so mournful. The ceramic tile is beautiful.

Boom Nisanart said...

Love the way you took this photo !
Old interior designed is always charming : )

Linda Frances said...

I've never been to Israel and it's on my list of places to go. Your tours are so meaningful and informative. Each photo is enhanced by your words.

Shalom

Linda
ABC Wednesday Team

Leslie: said...

Very interesting to read of your history as I used to teach Bible in my Christian school. We learned about the exile but of course, did not know about it from the Jewish perspective. Thanks so much! :)

Dimple said...

Thanks for the tour Dina. I also like the first shot. The door light using the star of David is beautiful.

ρομπερτ said...

A deep bow in respect of your writing and photography.


daily athens

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh. Gorgeous images. Powerful message. We remember and do not forget. May we never forget!

Cloudia said...

Thank you.

The Spirit guided you..

,,,and you touched us...



Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Tumblewords: said...

Astounding, as always! Thank you!

Pietro said...

I like these fascinating old houses. Very significant and interesting post.

Jama said...

A very fascinating house and informative entry. I always learn something new from you.

spacedlaw said...

Lovely building!

Turquoise Diaries said...

Wonderful buildings..Full of history..

Kay said...

I never knew about this. It's good that you are educating all of us about Jewish history.

My mother is constantly giving me snippets of Japanese history from 500 years ago to the presnt. How she remembers these things I don't know.

I can just imagine the curiosity of going into that open and welcoming gateway.

Reader Wil said...

I am so sorry that everybody believed my story about the burglar, while the end was made up by me... sorry!

Hilda said...

Another fascinating post, Dina. I find it amazing that the declaration of the sages is still being followed by homeowners until today. Very long memories, indeed.

VP said...

You have found something very interesting. I have heard of the unplastered wall, but never saw a real one.

VioletSky said...

I always learn something new when I visit you.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

I believe that you were meant to enlighten us today. Thank you for this.

onangelwings said...

That first photo is really something. Great prospective. Love the open door and the inviting natural light filtering in.

youareuseless said...

What a day of serendipity! Thanks for sharing.

Ann said...

It's important to remember. Thanks for good info

Leo said...

a lovely day... ur photos were very nice..