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The Period of the Omer

The Period of the Omer

Nisan 16-Sivan 5, around March-May

The period beginning the second night of Passover and continuing until Shavuot is known as the omer. “Omer” means “a measure,” which was an offering of the first of the new grain harvest brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. As recounted in Leviticus (Vayikra) 23:15-21, the “measures” were brought during a seven-week period culminating at the holiday of Shavuot, meaning “weeks,” when Jews brought an offering of two loaves of bread and animal sacrifices.

Today, because there is no Temple or offerings, Jews in some denominations of Judaism count the days between Passover and Shavuot. The counting is done at night when a new day in Judaism begins. In Orthodox circles, mourning customs are practiced except for the 33rd day of the omer. This day is called Lag B’Omer, and families celebrate with outdoor picnics and bonfires. The mourning customs and Lag B’Omer are largely not practiced by most Jews outside of Israel.

Modern observances during the Omer period include Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’Atzma’ut (Israeli Independence Day).

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