b'JEWISH CALENDAR COMPANIONTHE FAST OF TEVETJOHN FENNERT he Fast of Tevet occurs on the Tenth of Tevet. It follows Hanukkah by a week, although it has no relationship with that festival. Being a minor fast it is observed between dawn and nightfall. But what does it commemorate? According to 11 Kings, on the 10th day of the 10th month (Tevet), in the ninth year of Zedekiahs reign (588 BCE), Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, began the siege of Jerusalem. ThisledtothebreachingofthewallsofthatgreatCity18 months later on 17th of Tammuz at the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiahs reign. The siege ended with the destruction of the Temple three weeks thereafter on the 9th of Av (Tisha BAv), marking the exile of the Jews to Babylon. Thus, the Fast of Tevet marks the commencementofthisterriblesiegeandthedestructionthat followed: the beginning of the end. The 10th of Tevet is therefore considered to be part of the cycle of Fasts connected with these events, including Shivah Asar BTammuz (17th of Tammuz) and Tisha BAv.However, unlike Tisha BAv the Fast demands no additional physical constraints beyond fasting. So, one can bathe and wear leather shoes. Halacha exempts from fasting on the day those who are ill, even if the illness is not life threatening, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers who may find fasting difficult. The Tenth of Tevet is the only minor fast day that can coincide with Friday in the current Jewish calendar. When it does one experiences the unusual event of a Torah and Haftarah reading at the Mincha service immediately before Shabbat takes place. But this is very rare. The last occurrence was in 2013; and by coincidence the next will take place in December 2020. If it falls on a Friday the Fast must be observed until nightfall even though Shabbat begins before sunset. This will require one to enter Shabbat hungry from the Fast, which is normally avoided. No other Fast Day can fall on a Friday.The Chief Rabbinate of Israel have chosen to observe the Tenth of Tevet as a general kaddish day to allow the relatives of victims of the Holocaust whose Yahrzeits are unknown to observe the traditional yahrzeit practices.33'