COUNTING THE DAYS between Passover and Shavuot (also known as S’firat Ha’omer) is a Jewish tradition. The 49 days between the second night of Passover and the beginning of Shavuot is often a time for reflection.
For PJ Library parents, the question is: What are some good ways to Count the Omer with children?
TURN OFF THE TV
In a column for Tablet, writer Marjorie Ingall says she will be counting the Omer this year with the television off.
Ingall doesn’t pull any punches about it either. She writes:
“It’s supposed to be a time of personal betterment. It’s a time to be somber. And that is why I encourage all Jews (and all bipeds) to turn off the iCarlys, the Jonases, the Sonnys, the Ravens, the Zack & Codys, the Hannah Montanas and all other live-action television aimed at children and tweens.”
PJ Library author and Jewish parenting blogger Amy Meltzer is no stranger to the post-Passover lull. After all the preparations and anticipation that goes into Passover, she says, the after-effects of a passed holiday can leave you pining for the next one.
That’s why she created a Counting the Omer calendar for her girls.
“I went over to CVS Pharmacy, cleared out the bin of leftover jelly beans from Easter, wrapped them in tissue paper, and created … our home-made Omer counter.”
Meltzer reports that her girls look forward to counting the Omer after school. “I know the calendar hasn’t solved the problem of how to make Shavuot meaningful and relevant to my children,” Meltzer admits, “but at least it’s bought me five weeks to figure it out.”
Another Jewish parenting blog, Birkat Chaverim, was inspired by Meltzer and has since published images of its own. Along with photos of Counting the Omer calendars, Birkat Chaverim also offers a few Counting the Omer calendar templates for parents.
Shavuot commemorates the Jews receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai. Count the Omer in preparation for the holiday. We recommend reading the following books aloud to your children:
- Sammy Spider’s First ShavuotSammy Spider’s First Shavuot is written by Sylvia Rouss and illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn. The book is part of our Challah Toast (3 to 4 years of age) group. In this story, Sammy Spider lowers himself down on a strand of webbing to get a closer look at the Shapiro family’s preparations for Shavuot, a holiday celebrating the time when God gave the Torah to Moses.
- A Mountain of Blintzes
A Mountain of Blintzes by Barbara Diamond Goldin (illustrated by Anik McGrory) is part of PJ Library’s Egg Matza (5 to 6 years of age) group.The story is the story set in the Catskill Mountains. Here, a family finds ways to contribute the ingredients to make blintzes, a traditional food for the holiday of Shavuot.
- No Rules of Michael
No Rules for Michael is written by Sylvia A. Rouss and illustrated by Susan Simon. It’s the story of Michael, whose teacher affords him a day without rules. He, along with the rest of his class, learn what it would be like if there were no rules to follow.No Rules for Michael is a Challah Toast (ages 3 to 4) group selection.
- The Littlest Mountain
The Littlest Mountain by Barb Rosenstock is also a Shavuot book. When God decides to speak to people from a mountaintop and give them laws to follow, the mountains vie for the privilege. Which one will be chosen?The Littlest Mountain is a Dates & Almonds (ages 4 to 5 years) group selection.
Torah Tots provides some good information about Counting the Omer.