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Jewish Holidays: Lag B'Omer

Date: May 23, 2000

LAG B'OMER, which falls on 18 Iyar, is the 33rd day of the Omer, the seven-week period between Passover and Shavuot counted daily. Its name comes from the two letters, Lamed and Gimel, which spell the word "Lag."

The students of Rabbi Akiva, who lived around the beginning of the second century, began dying by the thousands during the Omer, 24,000 in all. The plague ended on the 33rd day, rendering the day a joyous occasion.

In commemoration of the deaths of the students, the Omer was declared a period of mourning. Weddings are prohibited during most of the seven-week period, though customs vary exactly when the prohibition begins and ends. Many Jews also don't listen to music, attend live entertainment, or get haircuts; men refrain from shaving unless necessary for work.

On LAG B'OMER, however, all the restrictions are lifted for the day, making it a popular date for Jewish weddings in the spring.

Jewish schools also try to conduct special programs on LAG B'OMER. Campfires have become the unofficial tradition of the day.

Of course, campfires are the unofficial tradition of many days. Probably because everyone loves 'em.

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