A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Tish’a B’Av (תִּשְׁעָה בְּאָב, day of disasters). The saddest day in the Jewish calendar with full-day fast mourning on the Ninth of Av, the fifth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar, culminating the Three Weeks national period of mourning for misfortunes and calamities for the Jewish people that started on the 27 June Seventeenth of Tammuz day of fasting in the fourth month. During the Three Weeks to Tish’a B’Av, two of the five great catastrophes commemorated on the Seventeenth of Tammuz occurred: the First Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians after the siege of Jerusalem in 586 BCE; and Jerusalem’s walls were breached prior to the destruction by the Romans of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The Three Weeks are referred to as the period of Dire Straits (Bein ha-Metzarim), in accordance with the verse in Lamentations: “All her oppressors have overtaken her within the straits.” During this time, various aspects of mourning were observed by the entire Jewish nation: joy and celebration were minimised; no weddings were held; no music was listened to; and there were no haircuts or shaving. Agonising over the events of the Three Weeks through teshuva (introspection and a commitment to improve) helps conquer those spiritual deficiencies that brought about the tragedies. From the 10 July First of Av Rosh Chodesh Av (the Nine Days), the expressions of mourning take on a greater intensity and on Tish’a B’Av this reaches a peak. Jeremiah lived at a time of deep upheaval in Jewish history, most significantly the destruction of the First Temple, and his account in the Book of Lamentations is read in the synagogue on Tish’a B’av, followed by the recitation of kinnot liturgical dirges. Other grave misfortunes throughout Jewish history remembered on the Ninth of Av include: the murder of the Ten Martyrs by the Romans in the period after the destruction of the Second Temple; the massacres of Jewish communities during the Medieval Crusades; the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 following the Alhambra Decree; the outbreak of World War One in 1914; the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942; and the Holocaust from 1941 to 1945. During the late afternoon prior to Tish’a B’Av, it is customary to eat Seudah HaMafseket, a solitary meal consisting only of bread, water and a hard-boiled egg. The food is dipped in ashes, symbolic of mourning, and eaten seated on the ground, it being different when the day is Shabbat, the Jewish Day of Rest, as there is no mourning on Shabbat. Following Tish’a B’Av, after the observance of five prohibitions all normal activities may be resumed, except for a delay until midday on the Tenth of Av, because the burning of the Temple continued through that day, of haircuts, washing clothes, bathing, listening to music, eating meat and taking wine. Image: pinterest.com.
Youm Arafah (يوم عرفة, Day of Arafah). The day that the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), to whom at 40 an angel had revealed the first verses of the Qur’an, gave one of his last sermons on the 70m Mount Arafah (Arafat) on 9 Dhul al-Hijjah in the Islamic lunar calendar, the second day of Hajj and for Muslims the most excellent day of the year. Muslims who are on Hajj pray in Mina and gather on the plain of Arafah to pray and plead for forgiveness, commemorating the end of the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet (pbuh). Standing in prayer on Mount Arafat is the peak of Hajj, before the pilgrims make their way to Muzdalifah, south of Mina, to pray and collect a recommended 70 pebbles, each the size of a date stone, to perform the stoning ritual of Hajj. Pilgrimage is the fifth of the pillars of Islam, the carrying out of which obligations provides the framework for Muslim life, so the Day of Arafah is a weighty one for Muslims, the day when, if sought after, millions of Muslims’ sins are forgiven by Allah. Those not on Hajj are also expected to pray and to fast. Youm Arafah is known as the day Allah perfected the religion of Islam and is also momentous because it was the day an important verse of the Qur’an, Surah al Maa’idah 5:3, was revealed. In the UAE, the Day of Arafah is celebrated as a public holiday. Differences in moon sightings mean that Muslims in different parts of the world celebrate Islamic events on different days. Image: islamweb.org.
Elizabeth Catherine Ferard (1825-83). Anglican Feast Day commemorating 18 July 1862 ordination of the prominent Huguenot London gentlewoman as the first Church of England deaconess, revitalising the deaconess order in the Anglican Communion. Although St Paul and St John Chrysostom considered the model suitable for both sexes, for centuries there were no deaconesses but in 1836 Lutherans in Kaiserswerth-Düsseldorf, Germany and c1855 Episcopalians in Baltimore, Maryland, started similar work. The Nineteenth-Century deaconess movement involved women living in community without becoming nuns and carrying out traditional deacon ministries, especially teaching girls, caring for the sick and serving the poor in industrialising cities. In 1856, Ferard visited the deaconess community at Kaiserswerth and saw their alternative, practical and religious lifestyle for women who were not nuns. In 1861, with the help of a wealthy relative and other benefactors, Ferard founded the North London Deaconess Institution near King’s Cross that became known as the London Diocesan Deaconess Institution in 1869 and in 1943 the Deaconess Community of St Andrew. The women dedicated themselves to the Church, teaching and caring for the sick without taking formal vows. The Community had the dual vocation of being deaconesses and religious sisters and Ferard first worked in a poor King’s Cross Church of England parish, which included St Pancras Old Church in Somers Town, from which the railway station took its name. It was necessary to move to Westbourne Park in 1873, due to the Institution’s growth and the clearance of much of Somers Town for the St Pancras railway development. Ferard nursed and taught in Bloomsbury, Kings Cross, Somers Town and Notting Hill. Resigning as head of the Diocesan Deaconess Institution in 1873 due to ill health, she ran a convalescent home for children in Redhill. She died in St Pancras, which was named after a wealthy young Turkish Christian convert who during the 303 persecution of Christians was brought before the authorities and asked to perform a sacrifice to the Roman gods. The boy resisted, refused wealth and power and was beheaded, his relics being carried to England by St Augustine and his image in statue form being found in many bars, restaurants and other businesses. The Community of St Andrew still exists today in Westbourne Park. Isabella Gilmore (1842-1923) led an alternative deaconess life in the Diocese of Rochester, as she preferred a more parish-based model. The deaconess movement spread to many American cities as well as to South Africa, China, New Zealand and the Philippines, among other places. A similar secular and slightly later institution was Chicago’s Hull House, for which Jane Addams (1860–1935) won the 1931 Nobel Peace prize. In 1987, four Sisters of the deaconess Community of St Andrew were ordained Deacon at Bristol and seven Sisters at London. In 1994, three of those Deacons were ordained as Priests. Alternative Anglican Communion Feast Day for ordination on 3 July. Venerated in Anglican Communion. Image: en.wikipedia.org.
Prayer O glorious St Pancras, with you as our holy connection, we ask Jesus Christ to give us honest, sufficient work for all the needs of our mortal, earth-bound lives. We ask you for health and strength to carry out our duties through Him, trusting that we shall reach eternal glory. We remain your relentless devoted servants. Elizabeth Ferard dedicated herself to your Church, to teach and care for the sick and we pray that we may show your and her faith to those around us today. Amen