Bring Your Marshmallows — It’s Lag B’Omer

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May 8, 2022

2 min read

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Almost everyone loves to gather around a campfire. There’s something mystical about watching the fire turn colors — red, yellow, and orange. As the flames are dancing, people gather together, tell stories, and roast marshmallows. A bonfire is an even larger campfire used to celebrate an event or occasion.

On the 18th day of the Hebrew month Iyar, which falls on May 19th, 2022, Jewish people in Israel will celebrate Lag B'Omer with huge bonfires.

The word Lag is the numerical name of the Hebrew letters “lamed” and “gimmel” which equal 33. Lag B'Omer falls on the 33 day of the counting of the Omer. We count the number of days between Passover and Shavuot in anticipation of receiving the Torah. Up until Lag B’Omer, is a period of semi-mourning — there are no weddings, no haircuts, and no listening to live music. But on Lag B’Omer, the celebrations begin.

The stories behind Lag B’Omer

One story is about Rabbi Akiva. He had 24,000 students who did not treat each other with respect. As a form of punishment, many were struck by a plague. After 33 days, the plague ended so we rejoice and celebrate.

Perhaps the origins are from a second story about Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Rabbi Shimon fled from the Romans after Bar Kochba’s defeat and hid in a cave with his son Elazar. Rabbi Shimon lived there for 14 years and requested that the day of his death be celebrated as a day of joy.

Though there is no way to know which is the real origin story, both are causes for celebration.

Let’s talk about the food

You know there isn’t a Jewish holiday without food. Even for Yom Kippur, there’s talk about what to eat before and after the fast. Lag B'Omer is no different and all that fire calls for a bar-b-que. Bring your steaks, hamburgers, and even chicken breast for grilling. And who doesn’t love anything on a skewer?

No bonfire is complete without potatoes. You take potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil and put them into the fire to bake. Of course, the trick here is to put them all together so that you can get them out. There’s nothing like trying to unwrap a hot potato in the dark, sprinkle it with a little salt, and enjoy the taste mixed with just a little charcoal.

Lag B'OmerAmerican style

You don’t have to live in Israel to celebrate Lag Baomer. You can grill or picnic in the U.S. as well. Aside from meats, Americans have added s’mores to their menu. For those who don’t know, this is two graham crackers forming a sandwich of marshmallows and chocolate. And they’re called s’mores because they are so delicious that you always want “some more”.

Graham crackers aren’t a staple in Israel, so you feel free to substitute with Petit Beurre. The name originates from France in 1886 and means “small butter”. Though not 100% the same, the combination of chocolate and marshmallow is just as delicious.

Start gathering wood for Lag B'Omer

With Passover finished, it’s time to look forward to Lag Baomer. In Israel kids of all ages will start to go out and collect wood so that their bonfire can be the biggest in the neighborhood. The night of Lag B’Omer you will find small and large bonfires all around the streets with friends and families gathering to tell stories, enjoy family traditions and eat some s’mores.

Here’s a new way to enjoy S’mores with a special Israeli twist.

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