The celebration of Lag B’Omer starts Monday night! Like many Jewish holidays, it has its basis in the ancient agricultural calendar. Lag B’Omer falls on the 33rd day of the seven-week period between Passover and Shavuot—this year on Tuesday, May 12. This period, known as the Omer, marks the spring cycle of planting and harvest, as well as the Israelites’ journey out of slavery (Passover) to make their way toward receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai (Shavuot).
An omer (sheaf) is an ancient Hebrew measure of grain. It was forbidden to use the new barley crop until after an omer was brought as an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem. “And from the day on which you bring the offering…you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete” (Leviticus 23:15-16).
In the weeks between Passover and Shavuot, a plague raged amongst the disciples of the great sage, Rabbi Akiva, and it ceased on Lag B’Omer. A time for reinforcing our unity, since in modern times Lag B’Omer has come to symbolize the resilience of the Jewish spirit.
Let’s Learn Together—In A Virtual Way!
30 With The Clergy Omer Theme: Jewish Time in the Wilderness
We can stay safe and still have a socially responsible picnic! Traditionally, celebrations take place outdoors, so if you have a porch or backyard where it is safe to do so, eat outside. And those of us in apartments can spread a blanket on the floor and enjoy having a meal in our living rooms! We can even set up a real tent or drape a blanket over some chairs, add a sleeping bag or two, and enjoy a picnic.
Things to do
Social Action on Lag B’Omer
A plague that killed thousands of students of the Talmudic scholar Rabbi Akiva during the Omer is a reminder to acknowledge our responsibility to the environment. Tell Congress to Pass the Climate Action Now Act! We need to help mitigate climate change or it will affect our health, food, water, and economic growth. The International Climate Accountability Act would help keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement and ensure the U.S. continues to help prevent climate change. Urge your member of Congress to support the International Climate Accountability Act (S.1743).
Lag B’Omer is also a time to support Jewish learning. Rabbi Akiva and his students were forced to study Torah in secret due to laws prohibiting the teaching of Torah. Today our Religious School and Rodeph Sholom School are places where even now students are still thriving, learning virtually from our amazing teachers. Appreciating them – a great way to honor the sacred calling of Rabbi Akiva and his students.
Like the plague that caused the demise of Rabbi Akiva’s students, our own health crisis around coronavirus is causing many to be without food. During this time, our partner, the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, has doubled the amount of food they distribute each week, and they need our help to continue. Make an online donation to the CRS Food Drive and we will quickly pass along the fund to WSCAH.
Recipe for Chocolate Chip Mystery Mandelbrot
Mandelbrot cookies are an Ashkenazi dessert dating back to the early 19th century. They are closely related to the Italian biscotti, which were first made in the Middle Ages. During the Depression and World War II, oil and butter were expensive and hard to come by, so mayonnaise was used in their place. Did you guess the secret ingredient in these mystery Mandelbrot? Yep, Hellmann’s Mayo!
1½ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon in a 3-qt mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Divide the dough in half and form into 2 long, narrow loaves on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and cool 5 minutes.
Transfer one loaf to a cutting board. With a chef ’s knife, slice the loaf on the diagonal into ½-inch slices. Lay the slices cut side down on the cookie sheet, and repeat with the other loaf. Return the cookie sheet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, turn the slices over, and return to the oven to bake for another 5 minutes or until golden.
Cool completely before storing in sealed container.
(Recipe from Entree to Judaism for Families by Tina Wasserman)