I am a big – make that HUGE – fan of The Simpsons. A few weeks ago I volunteered to lead a session (although it isn’t in the President’s job description!!!). It was a few weeks before Pesach, so I decided to make a presentation and lead a discussion on Sefirat ha-Omer, the counting of the 50 days between the second eve of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. This period includes the holiday of Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the Omer when Israelis celebrate with bonfires, picnics, playing with bows and arrows, and, strange as this may sound, giving a son his first haircut. Also, weddings are permitted only on this day during these seven weeks and a day so Israelis in large numbers are married on this one day. These are customs followed by Orthodox and Conservative Jews and not so much by Reform Jews but we do celebrate it in our own family for another reason – our son was born on Lag B’Omer.
Anyway, and here is where the Simpsons connection occurs: somebody – okay, it was funny man Howard Cooper 15 years ago – created a calendar – The Homer Calendar – to keep you on track as each evening you recite the bracha and announce the number of days, and then of weeks and days, of the Omer period. If you are a Simpsons fan, here is the link to this wonderful calendar and collection of other fun (and useful?) links to Jewish Springfield – http://homercalendar.net.
Speaking of links, the counting of the Omer serves to link us with our ancestors as they travelled from bondage in Egypt to freedom in the Land of Israel and along the way, the receiving of the Ten Commandments and, in fact, the whole Torah. It is a counting up, not a counting down, as we anticipate the event that so shaped us as a people/nation/civilization/religion.
If you check out the link above, you will see that the counting this year began on the eve of our Temple Israel Community Seder on Tuesday, April 15th and will continue until the eve of June 2nd, the 5th of the Hebrew month of Sivan. The following day will be Shavuot when we celebrate, as tradition has it, as if we were ALL present at Mount Sinai. And Lag B’Omer falls on May 18th, somewhere near the middle of this season.
Is all of the above just my being silly as my two year term winds down? Perhaps it is, but it is one of my last chances to share with you two of my great loves – The Simpsons and the Jewish People.
I want to wish you all a Happy Spring (I hope it really has arrived this time!) and a Happy Shavuot, a truly significant day in our religious calendar and the history of our people. I also look forward to seeing many – better yet, most – of you at our AGM at the end of June as I turn over the Presidency to another of our members. Watch your mailboxes (the real wooden or metal ones) for the AGM package in early June as we will be sharing with you a few proposed modifications to our Temple’s Constitution and By-Laws and the proposed slate of the Board for 2014-2016. There will also be a special event at this meeting as well as some delicious foods to enjoy. Please mark your calendars now for Wednesday, June 25th, at 5:00 p.m.