Preparing for Tisha B’Av -fasting


Next Monday is the start of the fast of Tisha B’Av, the day we mourn the for many things, especially the loss of our Temples. This is a 25 hour long fast – it starts at sundown and goes through sundown the next day. It’s during the summer, so the day is often hot in addition to being long. Preparing ahead of time makes it easier to focus on the meaning of the day and get through it!

For a good outline of some general laws, see this article. A more kid friendly article can be found here.

In 2014, Tisha B’Av starts at sundown on Monday, August 4 and lasts for approximately 25 hours until sundown on Tuesday, August 5th.

Of course, there is more to it than just fasting (no leather, bathing, creams, etc.). But this post will focus on fasting.

How can you make it easier?

  • Start cutting back on high sugar and caffeine foods early. Caffeine headaches plus dehydration aren’t pretty!
  • DRINK A LOT starting a few days before the fast. You want to be fully hydrated going in.
  • Eat something every couple of hours the day before, and be sure you are drinking, too.
  • Minimize excess salt and spicy food  the day before, and especially right before the fast.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time for the day before – don’t be scrambling for something with the clock ticking! Include your break fast meal in your planning, too.
  • While you’re planning, plan and prepare meals for the non-fasters in the house. It’s easier when you aren’t fasting – at least here! (looking for ideas?)
  • Don’t eat too much right before the fast starts, and focus on complex carbohydrates and some protein.
  • Leave time to drink, brush your teeth, and do whatever else you need to do before the fast.

Still, I never find the fast very easy. There are some things that some people really believe help them. One is kali tzom “all natural” pills (I can’t recommend personally, but I know people who love them and have seen them in Jewish stores and online, with versions for pregnant and nursing fasters in addition to others). I’ve also heard people talking about adult tylenol suppositories (yep, you read that right!), with or without caffeine. Again, I’ve never tried them, but if you are looking for options, they are apparently available in pharmacies that cater to the Orthodox Jewish population. I’m not sure about what questions those might bring halachically, if any, but they may be an option for you.

Now that we’ve gotten those practicalities taken care of, let’s talk about what to do with the kids!

  • puzzles
  • books they can read (or “read”) – go to the library and get some new ones (novelty is a good thing!)
  • chapter books you can read to them while you all relax (hey, it could happen!)
  • new (or new-to-you) toy. See some of my family’s favorites in the sidebar (Thanks, Amazon!)
  • pack a bag with a few snacks for each kid, and dole out as appropriate (nuts, cereal, candy…)
  • sit outside (but only if it’s cool–if you get hot, it makes fasting harder)
  • do a project on the kotel (like a marshmallow kotel) or jerusalem
  • print out coloring pages or have coloring books prepared – with crayons or markers
  • buy or make some playdough (in advance)
  • break out the busy bags
  • Use your faithful video player, tablet, or smartphone to entertain (yes, electronics are OK today, but the mood is somber)

I don’t get anything out until they are starting to complain – I let them entertain themselves as long as they can. But when I’m not up to jumping in and leading, or breaking up an argument, or whatever, I’m always glad I have fun things waiting in the wings. It certainly makes fasting easier for me!

How do you prepare for this fast?


About Amital

A die-hard listmaker and observant Jewish mommy of 5, managing the challenges of life bit by bit with the help of a Shalom Bayit book and lists. And chocolate, of course. Lots of chocolate.

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