Tu B’Av – The Jewish day for love

Did you know Jews have our version of Valentine’s Day? This year Tu B’Av, the Jewish holiday for love took place on August 2nd. This is an important day for our community with ancient roots, deep meaning, and modern application.

Since the Second Temple times, Jews have had the holiday of Tu B’Av (the 15th of Av). According to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, “There were no better [i.e., more joyous] days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Jerusalem would go out dressed in white…and dance in the vineyards.” The unmarried women were joined by potential partners in the vineyards and would say: “Lift up your eyes and consider who you choose.” 

Following the destruction of the Temple, this holiday was largely forgotten, but its celebration has had a resurgence in recent decades. Most modern celebrations resemble what one might do on Valentine’s Day, but since it has ancient origins, there are also links to the daily prayer service. Tachanun, a mildly mournful prayer, is omitted during morning services on this day.

“In the heart of Israel's summer comes an enchanting celebration known as Tu B'Av,” explains Michael Resnick, Federation’s Young Adult Programming Specialist, and an Israeli. “In contemporary Israel, this holiday has gained prominence as a day dedicated to romance. While not a religious holiday anymore, it has become an occasion for social gatherings, parties, and declarations of love.

“During Tu B’Av, Israelis often dress in their finest clothes ... Couples and singles alike take part in various romantic activities to celebrate the day. Popular customs include picnics in parks, romantic dinners, going to concerts or movies together, and simply spending quality time with loved ones. Tu B'Av has become an opportune time for people to express their affection and strengthen their relationships.’

Reznik adds that Tu B’Av is not only for couples. 

“For singles looking for love, Tu B'Av offers a unique opportunity to meet potential partners. Matchmaking events, parties, and social gatherings are organized in many cities across Israel,” he explains. “Giving flowers is also a tradition during Tu B'Av. Symbolizing beauty and love, bouquets of colourful flowers are exchanged between partners and friends, expressing affection and appreciation.”

Whether you celebrate it or not, whether you are single or in a relationship, Tu B'Av fosters an atmosphere of love and unity across Israel and the Jewish community, reinforcing the importance of human connections and the power of love to bring people together.