Why I’m Celebrating a Feast on Tisha B’Av

Did you know today is two holidays?

On the Jewish calendar, today is Tisha B’Av. A date traditionally marked with fasting.

On the Catholic calendar, it’s the Feast of Mary Magdalene.

Honestly, other than Christmas and Easter, I’m not usually on top of the holy days of Christianity. But this one came to my attention, and I couldn’t help notice that a feast and a fast were falling on the same day.

So, I did a little research. Honestly, a teeny, tiny bit, so I’m no expert. But it seems to me that this Feast is in part a reparation. Mary Magdalene was sometimes accused of being a prostitute, and not always acknowledged as an apostle in the same way that the other (male) apostles were.

This feast honoring her is a new date on the calendar, created by the Pope very recently. Many people view this as Mary finally getting the recognition she always deserved. Some view it as her #metoo acknowledgement.

Tisha B’Av is the date we mourn the destruction of the Temples, and more-so (for many of us), mourn the sinat chinam, or rampant hatred that brought about their destruction. It is a day to mourn, but also an opportunity to reflect on what we did wrong and repair it.

If you are like the majority of the people on this planet, you are likely neither feasting nor fasting today. However, you might be doing one or the other. Regardless, I thought it was interesting and noteworthy that these holidays with some similar themes and opposite commemorations are falling on the same day.

Last year on Tisha B’Av I pointed out that many people don’t have the privilege to choose whether or not to eat or how much.

Today is a fasting day in my tradition and I’m choosing to mark it by helping someone else have a feast — or at least a meal that they might not have otherwise had. I’m doing this by making a donation to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. However you celebrate, or don’t, I hope today can be a meaningful day for you and another step toward kindness for all of us.

About the Author
Esther Goldenberg is the author of several books, including the forthcoming three novels of biblical fiction: The Scrolls of Deborah, Seventeen Spoons, and The Song of the Bluebird. When she’s not going for early morning walks in her beautiful neighborhood in northern Israel, or taking drumming classes, she can be found bombarding her son and daughter with questions about their thoughts on ancient Egypt. To get previews of the books or to be notified when they're are available, sign up at
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