Counting the Omer

By Liraz Levi, Community Shaliach

It’s both crazy and funny to think that we're counting the Omer already, which is symbolic for me this year, as it's the countdown to the end of my time in Rockland. After Passover we start to count the Omer, and in that seven-week period are some of the most meaningful days of the year.

It all starts with Pesach, the most family-focused holiday for me, which I celebrated back home in Israel last month. Then come the days when many of us experience a range of intense emotions; from sadness and bereavement with Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, to happiness and pride, celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.

Just when you think you celebrated enough for a year, Lag B’Omer comes and forces you to stay awake all night long. As a kid is Israel, this is the best holiday you can have. You’re basically having a non-official competition with your friends to see who can stay awake all night while enjoying barbeques and singing songs around the bonfire until daybreak arrives.

At the end of the seven weeks comes my favorite holiday (if you’re looking at it from a food perspective): Shavout, which means “weeks” in Hebrew. The counting of the Omer is finally over and it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our work. For the holiday it’s common to wear white in Israel and to have an all-dairy meal. My mom and some of my uncles and aunts prepare a long buffet table full of pizzas and lasagnas and for dessert, a variety of cheesecakes and ice cream.

This year my Shavout holiday will be a time of rest, after a long year full of work and before the Celebrate Israel Parade on June 4. Join me that day to march together in New York City and celebrate the love for Israel! Sign up online at

As I march on that day, I’ll have a chance to enjoy the “fruits” of my labor; my successes and achievements over the past two years. And I’ll be making my rounds in early June as well, saying goodbye to all my friends in the county and getting ready for the farewell, which will come too soon.

Wishing you Happy Shavout Rockland!

-- Liraz

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