As the pandemic lingers on into yet another Jewish holiday, we are once again retooling and reframing so much of what we are used to doing in the synagogue or among friends.

Regarding Tisha B’Av, the annual day of mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem and our nation’s dispersion, the primary observances of the day can be done at home. Here are some tips on how to make this home-based Tisha B’Av meaningful.

1. Brush Up on Tisha B’Av Observances

The primary observance of the day is fasting (refraining from all food and drink) from sunset of the 8th of Av until nightfall the following night. But there are other things we also do not do, such as bathing, wearing leather footwear, applying ointment or creams, engaging in intimacy, sending gifts, or even extending greetings.

Read “The Laws of Mourning” For a Full Refresher

2. Prep the Right Food for the Day Before

On the evening before Tisha B’Av, we eat two meals. The first is a filling meal that will give your body the nourishment it needs to make it through a long fast. Make sure to drink lots of water.

The second meal, eaten close to sundown is already mournful. This somber meal is not very plentiful. Eaten alone while sitting on the floor or a low stool, it consists of a piece of bread and a hard-boiled egg dipped in ashes, a symbol of mourning. Again, drink lots of water.

Read More Tips for An Easier Fast

3. Don’t Forget About Your Kids

Even though they may not yet be fasting, don’t forget that it’s also Tisha B’Av for your kids, and they need to have a meaningful age-appropriate experience. Added bonus: the more engaged they are, the easier your day will be. Among other activities and snacks that you can prepare in advance, purchase a special book or two, to be taken out only on Tisha B’Av. Particularly appropriate are books that focus on the Holy Temple, Jerusalem, or kindness.

And don’t discount plopping them in front of some kosher screen time so that you can get some rest.

4. Get a Low Seat

Like mourners in shiva, we sit on a low stool or chair from the start of the fast until midday on 9 Av. You can make an appropriate chair by removing the cushion from a sofa or easy-chair. Alternatively, find a cushion or mat that you think will be comfortable on the floor.

5. Prepare to Read Eichah and Kinot

The most noticeable element of synagogue services that you will be missing at home is the reading of Eichah (Book of Lamentations) and Kinot (elegies that have been composed throughout the ages). When synagogue attendance is not possible, both may be said at home.

You can find Eichah in any edition of Tanach (Hebrew Bible), in the back of most editions of Chumash (Five Books of Moses), and of course online. If your Hebrew is not great, you can even read it in English (or read along with this audio recording).

Kinot are a little harder to come by in an easy-to-consume online form, but a little googling will serve you well. If purchasing an actual book, note that there is no Chabad edition, but the books produced by most Orthodox publishers are quite similar.

At night, after evening services, we read Eichah followed by a few key Kinot. Then, after morning services, we read many Kinot (followed by Eichah in Chabad tradition). While finishing them all is laudable, it is fine to do as much as you can.

Print Highlights From the Tish B'Av Service (PDF)

6. Watch (the Right Kind of) Online Torah Classes

Most Torah study, which gladdens the heart and delights the mind, is forbidden on this sad day. It is, however, permitted—and encouraged—to study sections of the Torah which discuss the laws of mourning, the destruction of the Temples, and the tragedies which befell the Jewish people throughout our history. This prohibition actually begins at midday the day before Tisha b’Av.

Learn the Talmudic Account of the Destruction With Rabbi Gordon

7. Don’t Forget Tallit and Tefillin

Tisha B’Av morning services are unique in that men wear neither tallit nor tefillin. They are described as pe’er, an adornment, and we mourn bereft and unadorned. After midday, however, the mourning restrictions ease up a bit, and we put on our tallit and tefillin for the afternoon services.

Read the Full Procedure in What to Expect at Tisha B’Av Services

8. Loosen Up in the Afternoon

While we do almost nothing in the morning other than pray and mourn, in the afternoon many have the custom to clean up the house and wash the floors in anticipation of the Redemption, which we await. This is also the time to prepare something to eat after the fast (it should not contain meat, since the full mourning restrictions are not lifted until noon on 10 Av).

Read Why the Afternoon Is Different

9. Crank Up the AC

In the Northern Hemisphere, Tisha B’Av is often a long, hot day. Keeping in a cool and shady spot can help stave off dehydration and migraines. Even if you have been conserving electricity, today is a good day to splurge on some good air-conditioning.

10. Join an Online Event

We learned early on in the pandemic that even if we are physically apart, the gift of technology brings us together in mind and in spirit with people from all over the world. Join Chabad.org’s online event here.

And as we sit and mourn at home, far from our beloved places of worship, we remember the essence of this day, when G‑d’s home was destroyed and our nation was deprived of our national place of worship. May it soon be rebuilt. Amen!