Fire when ready / by Susie Lubell

Omer2

Omer3

Omer1

On Sunday we celebrated Lag B'Omer which is a sort of obscure Jewish holiday, at least for Americans. But it's a day off school in Israel so it's a pretty big deal. It's the thirty-third day of the Omer which is the seven weeks between Passover, the physical emancipation from slavery in Egypt, and Shavuot, the spiritual emancipation when Moses received the ten commandments. Why the thirty-third day is so special is a little unclear. Feel free to chime in if you know why. Something about the end of some terrible plague that wiped out 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students back in the day which came about because his students weren't nice to each other. If they'd been Catholics it might have been a wrap on the knuckles. But no.

Anyway, the Omer is a period of mourning. Wandering directionless in the desert darkness kind of stuff. But the thirty-third day is a little reprieve. People can get married on that day which is quite popular. It's when my in-laws got married. It's so popular that we once attended three weddings in a twenty-four period when we lived in Israel. That's a lot of rejoicing.

And what do we do on Lag B'Omer? We light bonfires. Kids start collecting wood about two weeks before. You never want to be building or renovating your house during the Omer because a group of teenage punks will sneak by your home and steal all of your wood. You see ten year olds lugging giant tree branches across town and two by fours. It's hysterical. And lord knows why but you also shoot bow and arrows. You can't even make this stuff up, it's too random.

So a few families got together on Sunday and we had a BBQ and the kids made pita to bake on the taboon which I can only translate as the underside of a wok. It was an epic day for archery too. My husband stayed at home to finish putting in the new floor of my studio because he's the most wonderful person in the world and also to guard the wood. Plenty of Israelis in Silicon Valley. You can't be too careful with your wood around this time of year...