We see everything around us through a coronavirus-colored lens these days, searching the past for clues about what is to come. This month, I'm using the rhyme about April showers and May flowers as an occasion for hope, seeing every holiday in May as part of this unfolding pandemic.
Judaism is filled with ritualized counting. From the seven ordered days of creation, to the repetition of forty throughout the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), to God's exhortation to Abraham to "count the stars, if you can count them…" Currently, we are in the midst of counting the Omer, the days from Passover to Shavuot.
What makes this holiday a favorite among secular Israelis, while it is almost forgotten by Jewish kids in the Diaspora?
I had always thought of Jewish cemeteries as solemn places – but that was before going to a hilloula (festivity) 30 years ago in the Moroccan town of Ouazzane on Lag BaOmer, the Jewish holiday that falls on the 33rd day between Pesach and Shavuot.