The fast of Tisha b'Ab (9th Av), falls tomorrow. It is the darkest day of the Jewish calendar. It is a day of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, and other misfortunes that have befallen
Yemenite chanting on Tisha B'Ab at the Western wall in Jerusalem.
It is customary for mourners to read the Book of Lamentations. Among Jews of Aleppo the portion of the law read on Shabbat Ekha, just before the Fast, is sung to Maqam Hijaz. "There is consensus among ALL sources to apply Hijaz; this maqam (octave scale) is reserved to express sadness", says the blog Pizmonim Project.
On a lighter note, here is what the late Suzy Vidal, in her memoirs The Jasmine Necklace, had to say about 9th Av, and its significance for the Jews of Egypt:
My mother was born on July 23, which happened to be 9 Av, the
destruction of Solomon's Temple and also the date of the Expulsion of
Jews from Spain. Everyone called it Yom Ekha. Anyone who knows his Jewish calendar could easily guess which year Yom Ekha happened to be on July 23. But people were not te-ill el dam, heavy-blooded, and were not going to complicate their lives or waste time with such futilities.
is a very bad day in our calendar. It is not the day to sign an
important contract, getting engaged or married. Sexual relations are
forbidden. You cannot go the swimming pool or have a swim in the sea;
you just sit around, pray and wait for Yom Ekha to pass away.
expressions are attached to that day. It is an expression of disbelief.
If someone says," I'll do this or that," you can answer "Oh yes, Yom Ekha". It is the same as saying we'll never see that. Of someone who is not resourceful you could say Ekha aleh or Ekha aleha. Aleh means on him and aleha on her.
"My mother was convinced that being born on Yom Ekha
she was bound to be unlucky: fall off her beloved ladder, burn her hand
with boiling oil or have money stolen from her bag when shopping. All
the misfortunes that happened to her were because she was born on July
23, which in the year of her birth happened to be Yom Ekha."