In Israel, every mountain, valley, and, in some places, literally every step is steeped in Jewish history. When you live in a place like historic Judea, entire history lessons can be found right in your backyard. Herodion happens to be in my backyard.
This palace/fortress, which looks somewhat like a volcano from a distance, was built by Herod the Great, and was built while the Second Temple still stood. In fact, the very same Herod made the final spectacular renovations to the Second Temple.
Every year, on Tisha B’Av night, thousands of Jews stream to Herodion, to hear Eicha (Lamentations). This year, there were so many people that they had to close the parking lot. And people kept coming… Old people and young. Families. Soldiers. Many parked far away and hiked up the mountain.
But there’s more to it than just the fact that Herodion is a structure that was contemporary with the Second Temple. You see, when the Temple fell to the Romans, Herodion was one of the few strongholds still held by the Jews. And one of Herodion’s strengths was its incredible 360 degree view, for miles around. Including the Temple Mount. So on that Tisha B’Av, in the year 70, when the Temple was destroyed, the Jews on Herodion could literally see it burning.
Two thousand years later, I can’t think of a more appropriate place to listen to lamentations about the destruction of Jerusalem. Or a more hopeful experience of togetherness.