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Lag BaOmer Celebrations

We’ve passed over Pesach, and we’re deep into spring. Our girls enjoyed a meaningful holiday, preceded by joyful and educational field trips that gave them a renewal of spirit and blessed childhood memories to cherish. They are growing up physically and they’re maturing emotionally. And, so much of their bounty has come from YOU!

This past weekend, May 21-22, our girls celebrated further. On Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer that began on Passover, they will rejoice not on their own behalf, but because of two unsure reasons, which are: The Talmud mentions a plague that is thought to have killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students during the Omer. Some have suggested that Lag BaOmer is celebratory because the plague abated on the 33rd day.

Another suggested reason for rejoicing is connected to Rabbi Akiva’s support of Simon Bar Kokhba, a Jewish rebel leader against Rome. The Romans responded to Bar Kokhba’s revolt with incredible brutality. But, it is believed that on this day that either the Jews won a victory or there was a brief respite from the violence. The military connection is supported by the tradition of taking kids to open fields or parks and to play with toy bows and arrows and to build bonfires that represent the light of Torah.

Since the beginning of counting of the Omer, celebrations and festivities ceased. It’s almost like a period of mourning. People don’t listen to music, or cut their hair – they do not get married or plan fun vacations. The author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, also died on the 33rd day of the Omer. In Israel many people commemorate his death by visiting his grave in the northern town of Meron. The anniversary of his death is a day for celebration because it is believed he revealed the secrets of the Torah to his students before he died.

In the past few weeks, our girls have been learning about tactfulness and timing – doing the right thing at the right time, when it’s appropriate to laugh, when to be serious. After 33 days of holding back from listening to music, dancing and singing, it’s now time for them to enjoy again! An outdoor barbecue in the park will be the highlight of their day. They’ll even roast marshmallows and sing around a bonfire. The lessons they’ve learned – there’s a time for merriment and a time for reflection – are just another notch of knowledge they have gained at our Home!

Enjoying the warmth of the Lag BaOmer Bonfire

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