Below is a collection of Lag BaOmer lesson plans, videos, and articles created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.  

 

Lag BaOmer Holiday Overview

  • What: Lag BaOmer is the 33rd day of Sefirat Ha’Omer, the count of seven weeks between the Pesach and Shavuot holidays. This date is also the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the founder of the Kabbalah movement. 
  • When: On the Hebrew calendar, its official date is the 18th of Iyyar
  • How: Many people celebrate Lag BaOmer with bonfires, picnics, weddings, and live music (for many Ashkenazic Jews, this marks the start of the celebratory season, since the first half of the Omer count has now been completed). In Israel, many Jews make the pilgrimage to Meron in Northern Israel, to the burial site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
Lag BaOmer Vocabulary
English Transliteration

Translation

Hebrew

Sefirat HaOmer

The Count of the Omer

ספירת העומר

Medurah

Bonfire

מדורה

Hilula

Celebration, interpreted by some as the anniversary of a death

הילולה

Lag BaOmer Educational Themes
  • Strength, bravery
  • Jewish mysticism
  • Celebration of life
Lag BaOmer Classroom Discusssion Questions
  • When counting the 7 weeks of Sefirat HaOmer, we count up (day 1, day 2, etc.) instead of counting down (49 days left, 48 days left). Why do you think that is? What things in your life do you count down to and what do you count up?  
  • Counting the 49 days of the Omer is a mitzvah that is dependent on remembering. If someone forgets to count for even one full day, many opinions say that the blessing for Sefirat HaOmer can no longer be recited, though one should continue to count each day without the blessing. Why do you think this is? Why is it so important to make sure to not miss even one day of the 49-day count?

  • The time of Sefirat HaOmer is considered by many to be a time of mourning. According to a Talmudic story, during this time period, thousands of the students of Rabbi Akiva died in a terrible plague. The reason given for this plague was the students’ inability to see past their differences and treat one another with respect and kindness. Why do you think that the way that Rabbi Akiva’s students treated one another mattered so much and caused such a big plague?

  • Rabbi Akiva was known for saying, “ואהבת לרעך כמוך: זה כלל גדול בתורה – Love your fellow man as you love yourself: this is the most important principle in the Torah.” What are some ways that we can practice this in our everyday lives?

  • Some of the mourning practices that are customary for some groups of Jews during the period of Sefirat HaOmer include restrictions: no haircuts, no getting married, no live music, and more. Why is it important for us to still keep these restrictions and stay connected to something that happened at this time so long ago?

  • Lag BaOmer is celebrated, among other reasons, as the day that the plague stopped and the students of Rabbi Akiva were no longer dying. Because of this, many Askenazi Jews stop all mourning restrictions on this day, and Lag BaOmer is a day of celebration. How can we switch from a time of mourning to a time of celebration so quickly?

VIDEOS

Counting the Omer: The Basics of the Jewish Ritual – This video from Bimbam explores the custom of Sefirat HaOmer and its traditions.
Lag BaOmer: Who Was Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai? – This video from Aleph Beta explores the background and character of the Talmudic sage.

LESSON PLANS

Creative Ways to Remember the Day of the Omer from the National Library of Israel –  In this lesson, students learn about counting the Omer, discover and analyze various Omer counting aids from the NLI collections, and create their own counter.
Lag BaOmer Haircuts on Mt. Meron from the National Library of Israel – ​ In this lesson, students learn about the origins of Lag BaOmer and how it is celebrated on Mt. Meron.
Lag BaOmer Resources from Jewish Interactive – This complete digital toolkit includes games, instructions, and more.
Lag BaOmer Resources and Activities from the Jewish Agency – This comprehensive page includes explanations of holiday customs, activity ideas, and more.
Activities for Celebrating Lag BaOmer by JTeach – Download a free set of lesson plans and activities for teaching and celebrating Lag BaOmer.