COLUMN OMER BRIDGES PASSOVER AND SHAVUOT

COLUMN DANCE CLASS SPICES UP MARRIAGE

BY ELLIE GROSSMAN

Before you throw away the box of leftover crumbled matzah, just keep in mind that the Jewish journey to Sinai isn’t over yet. Sure, we can eat bagels once again, but we also have many more opportunities to learn about our history before the next major festival Shavuot gets here.

The full seven-week period between Passover and Shavuot is named Omer after an offering brought to the Temple in Jerusalem at this time of year. The Counting of Omer lasts 49 days and bridges the time in which the Jewish people were liberated from Egypt to when our ancestors received the Torah at Sinai. During Omer, we recapture the eagerness of our people and link our physical freedom at Pesach to our spiritual redemption at Shavout. In other words, the Sages teach us that we weren’t truly free until we received the Torah.

ADVERTISEMENT

During the special observances of the season, we experience a roller coaster of emotions. To start with, we mourn for those who perished during the Holocaust and for Jews who continue to be persecuted. On Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), many synagogues host public observances, including prayers, readings, candle lighting ceremonies, and even testimonies by survivors, whose words remind us to never take our freedom for granted. One way to recognize this day at home is to simply light a yahrzeit candle and take a few moments of silence followed by an age-appropriate discussion of the Holocaust if your children want to learn more.

Then the mood switches from sad to joyful on Israel Independence Day (Yom HaAtzma’ut), when we celebrate the birthday of Israel. Many well-wishers throw a party with a cake, plenty of blue and white decorations, and an Israeli spread of falafel, hummus, and tehina on pita bread. Next, is Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron), which honors fallen soldiers who’ve died defending Israel. This day reminds us of the sacrifices that were made so that the State of Israel could exist. Finally, on the eve of Lag B’Omer, we enjoy springtime with a family picnic or other activity in the great outdoors. A favorite Israeli custom is to make a bonfire and roast potatoes and sing Hebrew folksongs.

What makes this holiday significant is that Omer is the first time in our history that we are given the Torah. The lesson here, perhaps, is that it’s better to give than to receive.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to: [email protected] or visit her new website at www.mishegasofmotherhood.com.