by Robin Bosworth
Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day in the count from Passover to Shavuot, is a joyous time for Jews around the world. To ensure that we enjoy celebrating Lag BaOmer this year, here are some fun facts and ways to observe this festive day:
- Lag BaOmer marks the end of a plague that killed the famous Rabbi Akiva and 24,000 of his students. For that reason, this day marks the end of the mourning period that traditionally takes place from the second day of Passover up until this point. On Lag BaOmer, it is common to have weddings and other festivities in order to truly make it a celebratory day.
- Around the world, people build huge bonfires to memorialize Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi and his teachings of mysticism. In Israel, people throw potatoes into their bonfires to eat, and in America, the tradition has been modified slightly to eating s’mores. Lag BaOmer marks the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi’s death, so we light bonfires to celebrate his life and his impact on the Jewish people.
- The largest celebration of Lag BaOmer occurs in Meron, a town in northern Israel that contains Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi’s tomb. On this single day of the year, hundreds of thousands of people gather to take part in festivities, including singing and dancing.
- It is a custom for Jewish children around the world to play with bows and arrows on Lag BaOmer. During the time when the Romans forbade the Jews from studying Torah, the Jews pretended to hunt with bows and arrows but actually learned in secret. Therefore, on Lag BaOmer Jews both study Torah and play with bows and arrows to show their freedom from the Romans.
- At The Leffell School this year, students played kickball and enjoyed ice cream to experience the joyfulness of the holiday.
However you choose to celebrate, have a great Lag BaOmer!