It is a testament to the tenacity of the Jewish people’s collective memory that nearly two millennia after the fact, they continue to recall and commemorate the destruction of the Temple.

Historian Esther Benbassa would say this reflects the preoccupation of the Jews with their suffering, as a defining element in their self-definition. “The story of suffering stood in for history in the proper sense of the term,” wrote Benbassa, as a way of preserving “the always fragile unity of the community in the Diaspora.”

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