Kinot

Kinot (Hebrew קינות‎) are elegies and dirges recited by Jews on Tisha B’Av.

Kinot Tisha B'Av liturgy

Kinot are poetic ways Jews remember and emotionally experience the idea of Never Again, in regards to what effectively was the first holocaust of the Jewish people.

The First Temple in Jerusalem (Hebrew בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ‬) was built around 957 BCE. It was destroyed in 586 BCE , when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem.

The Second Temple was joyously rebuilt by Jews returning from captivity,  after the fall of the Babylonian Empire, completed around 515 BCE. Yet our holy Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE during the siege of Jerusalem.

According to Josepheus more than a million people were killed during the siege, and many of the survivors were exiled from our ancestral homeland, and sent into slavery.

Francesco Hayez Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem
The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, Francesco Hayez, oil on canvas, 1867.

Just as Jews today say “Never Again” to the Holocaust, the liturgical services for Tisha B’Av do the same for the previous destruction. Kinot are recited on the night of Tisha B’Av after reciting Eichah (Hebrew אֵיכָה‬), the Book of Lamentations.

Unless otherwise stated, the prayerbooks listed below are bilingual, in English & Hebrew. Most of these published before 2000 are likely out of print, although one can find used copies from online booksellers.

Liturgy of Conservative/Masorti Judaism

Tisha b’Av Services, Ed. Morris and Hillel Silverman, The Prayer Book Press of Media Judaica, 1955/1989. Now out of print.

Siddur Tisha B’Av: Ma’arov, Eikhah, Kinot, Ed. David Lincoln, The Rabbinical Assembly, 2003.

Liturgy of Orthodox Judaism

There are many printings of Kinot, traditionally only in Hebrew. Here are a few of the more popular ones with English translations.

Tisha B’av Compendium: Tephilot and Kinot, Abraham Rosenfeld, Judaica Press, 1965. Widely used in the United Kingdom.

The Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, Complete Tisha B’Av Service with commentary by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Koren. A Modern Orthodox service.

Kinnos / Tishah B’av Siddur: The complete Tishah B’av service. By Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Rabbi Avie Gold. From ArtScroll/Mesorah.

Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Kinnos / Tishah B’av Siddur. From ArtScroll/Mesorah. The complete Tishah B’av service with an Interlinear Translation.

Kinnos / Tishah B’av Siddur, Ed. Avrohom Chaim Feuer and Avie Gold

Liturgy of Reform/Liberal Judaism

Classic Reform Judaism saw such aspects of Judaism as no longer normative, and as even primitive or outdated.

“Some Reform Jews, as did 19th century Rabbi David Einhorn, actually see the holiday as celebratory, crediting the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent exile of the Jews with enabling the Jewish people to survive and become “a light unto the nations,” as prophesied in the Book of Isaiah (42:6 and 49:6).” – Jane Ulman, Tisha B’Av Dilemma

Since the 1970’s there has been a subtle return-towards-tradition wing of Reform which has rethought the earlier rejection. Some Reform rabbis now teach that we should observe Tisha B’Av, even if not following traditional practices. A short service can be found in the classic American Reform prayerbook, “Gates of Prayer.”

Nonetheless, today we see that Reform prayerbooks have no kinot. The newest Reform prayerbook, Mishkan T’filah, which otherwise reembraces many formerly rejected rituals and holidays, contains no kinot or Tisha B’Av service.

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