Visiting the Arch of Titus on Tisha b’Av

August 5, 2022 | Shulamith Berger
About the author:

After defeating the insurgents in the tiny province of Judea, and burning down Jerusalem and with it the Second Temple, the emperor Titus held a triumphal procession in Rome. His brother and successor Domitian would then commemorate the victory with the Arch of Titus, which still stands today. In 1926, on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av—the anniversary of both Temples’ destruction—Rabbi Leib Fishman Maimon visited the arch, and had his picture taken with two of his comrades. He then mailed it to his father with the following note:

On my journey to the congress of the Zionist General Council on the day of the destruction of our holy Temple, I went to the Victory Arch of Titus—and I send my greetings to you from there. We won! Am Yisrael ḥai! [The People of Israel live!]”

Shulamith Berger identifies the other two men in the photograph as the distinguished rabbis Meir Bar-Ilan and Shmuel Ḥayim Landau, and observers:

These three men were key figures in Mizrachi, the Orthodox Zionist movement; they were on their way to the Zionist General Council meeting in London in August 1926. . . . All three fathers of Mizrachi were born in Eastern Europe; by 1926 all were living in British Palestine. Their decision to visit the Arch of Titus on 9 Av, the day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple, is symbolic. They were on their way to a Zionist conference, and wanted to make the statement that the Jewish people have outlived the ancient Romans: Jews are eternal. They made sure to photograph the event and record it for posterity.

Read more on Yeshiva University Library: