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

 

Sefirat HaOmer and Lag BaOmer Overview

  • What: The Omer is a count that lasts from the second night of Pesach until the holiday of Shavuot, for a total of 7 full weeks. Lag BaOmer is the 33rd day of Sefirat HaOmer, a date that is also the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The count is named for the Omer sacrifice, a wheat sacrifice that was brought during the times of the Temple.
  • When: On the Hebrew calendar, the Omer is counted from the 16th of Nisan until the 6th of Sivan. Lag BaOmer is celebrated on the 18th of Iyyar
  • How: The Omer is counted every night with a blessing. The count begins with day 1 and builds up to the 49th day. Both days and weeks are counted, leading up to the 7 weeks. It is customary to refrain from hosting celebrations such as weddings during the period of the Omer. The 33rd day of the count, Lag BaOmer, is celebrated by many people 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.
Sefirat HaOmer and Lag BaOmer Vocabulary
English Transliteration

Translation

Hebrew

Sefirat HaOmer

The Count of the Omer

סְפִירַת הָעֹמֶר

Medurah

Bonfire

מְדוּרָה

Hilula

Celebration, interpreted by some as the anniversary of a death

הִלּוּלָה

Sefirat HaOmer and Lag BaOmer Educational Themes
  • Connection to Biblical times
  • Counting up, not down
  • Strength, bravery
  • Jewish mysticism
  • Celebration of life

SEFIRAT HAOMER AND LAG BAOMER DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
By The Lookstein Center

  • 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 not to miss even one day of the 49-day count?
  • The period 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, “וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ: זֶה כְּלָל גָּדוֹל בַּתּוֹרָה – 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 weddings, 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 Ashkenazi 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?

SEFIRAT HAOMER RESOURCES

Counting the Omer: The Basics of the Jewish Ritual – This video explores the custom of Sefirat HaOmer and its traditions. By Bimbam.
How to Count the Omer –​ This article explains the basic steps of how to count Sefirat HaOmer each day. By My Jewish Learning.
The Mysticism Behind the Counting of the Omer –​ This article explores the Kabbalistic significance of Sefirat HaOmer. By the National Library of Israel.
The Reasons and Scope of Mitzvah Sefirat HaOmer –​ This article and accompanying source sheet analyze the mitzvah of counting the Omer. By Yeshivat Har Etzion.
Count Today’s Omer – This webpage displays the current Omer count for each day along with the blessings for counting the Omer. By Chabad.org.

LAG BAOMER RESOURCES

The Story of Lag BaOmer – This short video teaches young students about Rabbi Akiva and the history of Lag BaOmer. By Toveedo.
What is Lag BaOmer? –​ This article reviews the history of the holiday and its modern celebrations. By Chabad.
A Special for Lag BaOmer: The Story of Rabbi Akiva – This video for young students tells the story of Rabbi Akiva’s life. By CKids.
Lag BaOmer: Who Was Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai? – This video for middle school and high school students explores the background and character of the Talmudic sage. By Aleph Beta.
Bar Kochva – This Hebrew song reviews the story of Bar Kochva and his connection to Lag BaOmer. By Yeled Muzika.
The Lag BaOmer Lowdown – This resource collection includes crafts, activities, books, and more to teach young students about Lag BaOmer. By PJ Library.
The Ultimate Lag BaOmer Resource List – This set of resources includes fact sheets, Jewish texts, and more. By Sefaria.
Activities for Celebrating Lag BaOmer – This downloadable collection includes a set of lesson plans and activities for teaching and celebrating Lag BaOmer. By JTeach.

 

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