Coming a month and a half before the spring equinox and two months before Passover, Tu BiShvat provides a glimmer of springtime at a time when winter can often be at its cruelest.
Tu BiShvat (Hebrew for the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat) is the new year of the trees.
Driving across the Jezreel Valley these days, you can't miss the biblical echoes of the landscape. On Pesach we are to eat only cereal products made from the last year's harvest, baked with no leavening – and at the same time we are to clean out completely any remnants of any grain products from the old supply.
Derived from central Europe, the popular kichlach (Yiddish for "cookies") are to be found in many of the packages prepared by parents for their children serving in the Israeli military.
The Hebrew letter equivalent of 33 is pronounced Lag (lamed gimel), giving rise to the name Lag BaOmer for this particular day. There is no one particular reason that this day stands out from the other 48 days counted between Pesach and Shavuot, yet many fascinating traditions surround the special nature of this day.
My husband introduced me to techina (tahini), a staple found in most Israeli kitchens, as soon as we made aliyah in 1992.
Lag BaOmer was completely off our radar when we lived in the United States. We never had any real exposure to it until we made Aliyah, and now its approach is easily recognizable by kids walking down the street, schlepping huge pieces of wood, old furniture, sticks, and anything else that burns.