Lag BaOmer (May 26, 2016) marks the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai - mystic and author of the Zohar, the seminal kabbalistic work that illuminates the divine light within every soul. The Omer itself is a 50-day period between the second day of Passover and the festival of Shavuot, when we celebrate the day the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai.
We aren't called the StartUp Nation for nothing! One of Israel’s greatest sources of pride is the enormous number of inventions that come out of the country. Some of the most famous are the cell phone, drip irrigation, the cherry tomato, electric car grids, Disk-on-Key and many more.
Here are some other cool Israeli initiatives:
It was a Friday afternoon; we were still living in Katamonim, a small neighborhood in Jerusalem. I was about to leave my apartment to pick up some groceries for Shabbat when suddenly I heard screaming. This was not any kind of screaming. This was piercing, terrifying, horrible screaming like something terrible was happening. I opened the door, as all the neighbors had, to find out what was happening. I saw that the door to my next door neighbor, the Gidonis, was open and that the screaming was coming from there. The Gidonis were a nice traditional family of 4 boys ranging from ages 19 to about 30 that for the most part kept to themselves. I was quite friendly with the father and couldn't imagine what had gone wrong.
In Israel, Yom Hazikaron (Israel's Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism), is a powerful and difficult day. There are few people not affected by or connected to the death of a soldier or victim of terror. If a family hasn't suffered a loss like this, they have friends and neighbors who have - it is part of the national experience of being Israeli. So it's easy to find meaning from the day when the country is mourning around you. Its so much harder outside of Israel - no siren's or flags at half mast; TV and radio isn't dedicated to programming around YomHazikaron.
We asked the Jerusalem U staff what they think are the most impactful Holocaust films, that inspired and moved them. Here is what they came up with:
10. Europa Europa (1990)
A perspective of Holocaust history that is rarely spoken about. The true story of a Jewish child who survived the war by living as a Nazi.
Directed by: Agnieszka Holland
B2247: A Granddaughter's Understanding
Sara Greenberg was an undergrad with no film making experience, who made a Holocaust movie that has been seen by many thousands. It was her passion to share her grandparent's important and moving story of survival that propelled her to fight her own fears and insecurities which had been holding her back.
Passover is a day shorter! Yes in Israel you can eat bread after 7 days & not 8 like the rest of the world!
2. LATIN AMERICA
It’s still called the ‘Spring Festival’ even though it’s during the Fall season south of the Equator … isn’t that ironic? Struggles of the southern hemisphere!
The main part of the Passover Seder isn’t bitter herbs or cups of wine, it is called "Maggid" - the telling of the story of the end of Jewish slavery in Egypt and we’re not just supposed to read a few details or historical facts, we are supposed to go into great detail - the Haggadah tells us that the more that we dwell on our historical experience of being slaves in Egypt, the more praiseworthy we are. But it happened 4000 years ago! What value today is there for us in 2016 in an ancient tale of enslavement and freedom?
Is Purim the Jewish Halloween? Sure, we dress up in costumes on both days - perhaps there are a few more princesses, and a few less vampires amongst the kids on Purim, but otherwise they look a lot alike. There is a major difference however: