|Firstly, welcome back to school after what I hope was a restful and fun-filled break. I imagine everyone had their own unique Pesach celebrations. Mine took place on the other side of the world in Bali, Indonesia for what was a particularly memorable Pesach Seder with my sister’s family, who are overseas for the year. Even though we stuck to our not-so-traditional regular Haggadah and brought along Matzah and Matzah-ball mix, the environment lent itself to an entirely original experience. Our Seder plate was home-made and there was no kosher meat, so we went vegetarian and used a beet for our Z’roah (shank bone).
My nephew, who turned nine on the first night of Pesach, was the youngest member at the table. He has been learning to speak Indonesian, but still remembered his Hebrew, enough to sing the Ma Nishtana beautifully.
Wherever you were to celebrate, in your home or somewhere else, I hope you have moments that you will remember and cherish as part of your family’s shared stories.
When I titled this message “Post-Pesach Blues”, I was thinking about the time of the Omer, not the sadness I feel after an intense visit with my wonderful family and then leaving them, knowing I won’t see them again until July.
The next few months are often considered to be sad ones on the Jewish calendar. On the second evening of Pesach, we begin the nightly counting the Omer – the 49 days (7 weeks) until the next Pilgrimage Festival of Shavuot. There are a number of days we commemorate sad times in our Jewish history and they are interspersed with joyous occasions as well. Historically, the Omer was a time when wars were waged, due to Spring weather, and lives were lost, thus a time of semi-mourning. Today we mark this by abstaining from celebrating with music and cutting our hair (as we would do in mourning), at least until L’ag B’Omer (the 33rd day), and sometimes right up until Shavuot.
Also, we commemorate Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) on 27th of Nisan (corresponding to today, April 12th this year) and Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day for soldiers and those whose lives were lost due to terrorist attacks) on the 3rd of Iyyar (corresponding to April 18th this year). Our school will mark these days in an age-appropriate manner for our students.
The joyous occasions include Yom HaAtzma’ut (Israel’s Independence Day) on the 4th of Iyyar (corresponding to April 19th this year) and L’ag B’Omer on the 18th of Iyyar (corresponding to May 3rd this year). RJDS has some very exciting activities planned at school and outside our school for these two celebratory days.
All these special days conclude on Shavuot, the 6th of Sivan (corresponding to May 20th this year). Some of my favourite customs are practiced on Shavuot, namely eating ice cream and blintzes, dressing all in white, and staying up very late to study Torah. RJDS will have a token celebration beforehand and I encourage you to take advantage of all the wonderful programming offered on that Sunday and civic holiday Monday at our local synagogues. The conclusion of the Post-Pesach Blues with Shavuot is a festive one.