KD Daily - Anat's Israeli Lag Ba'Omer

Today is DAY THIRTY-FIVE, which makes FIVE WEEKS of the Omer.

Torah for Today

Anat Katzir, Kol Dorot Educator


Lessons From a Failed Rebellion


Growing up, I LOVED Lag Ba'Omer. It was truly an event for kids. We started collecting firewood at least two weeks leading up to the celebration and would walk around the neighborhood to find the perfect spot and even set up shifts to guard the spot from the moment school let out, so we wouldn't lose it by night time.


The campfire felt like our chance to participate, as heroes, in the story of Bar Kochva, the military leader of the resistance against Roman rule over the Land of Israel and the hero of Lag Ba’Omer that we learned about and sang about as part of our celebration. The narrative was clear: God and Rabbi Akiva sanctified this battle. We banged on drums, made make-shift bows and arrows from twigs we found and some string and felt the power of the heroic soldiers.


No one ever told us how the story ended. Being Jews living in Israel, I guess we just assumed it was like the other rebellions in our Jewish-Zionist narrative: the Maccabees, the Jewish resistance in WWII, the Zionist resistance against the Ottoman and British Rulers—they were all small weak forces that miraculously prevailed. But that is not the case with Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kochva. When I was older and learned of their terrible defeat, at the cost of many lives, to the point of putting in danger all of Jewish continuity, I felt lied to. I did not wish to honor the holiday and it’s traditions.


But both physically and metaphorically, the fire kept burning. I found other elements of the holiday to appreciate, like the the plague that ended or the life of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. I also looked to other teachings of Rabbi Akiva to celebrate, like “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and pushed away the rebellion narrative. This year, I am asking a new question: Is there merit in teaching about the failed rebellion? What lessons can we take away? Perhaps it is that even great passion, faith, and heroism don't always lead to victory. That when we risk everything for a potential miraculous win, we face the very real threat of losing. That battle means risking the lives of heroes, and we should think through that choice very carefully. And also, that even the greatest sages may end up on the wrong side of history, we all make mistakes, and when we look forward, we need to learn from both our best moments and from our worst.


There are many more lessons to take from the story behind Lag Ba’Omer, and I am grateful that our history has allowed us to survive and that our sages kept the different narratives instead of eliminating them and allowed us to learn, grow our minds and spirits and collect meaningful experiences and life lessons from each of them.

Coming Up


*TONIGHT* Music and Meditation with Cantor Sarah

Thursday, 5/14, 8:30pm

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Join Cantor Sarah for a few moments of healing music and meditation to help you breathe your way into the rest of the week. After a long day, take a few moments to listen to prayerful music and release some of the stress and anxiety of the day.

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Friday, 5/15, 5:00pm

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Our super-fun Tot Shabbat experience goes virtual! Designed primarily for our friends ages 0-5 and their families, we will do a lot of singing and dancing and have an energizing, comfortable Shabbat experience. All are welcome! (Feel free to invite friends.)


*LIVE* Candle Lighting and Shabbat Blessings

Friday, 5/15, 6:00pm

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Kol Dorot Shabbat Service

Friday, 5/15, 6:30pm (Pre-recorded)

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This week, a special guest appearance from our Religious School students! The service will be pre-recorded—check Kol Dorot's Facebook Page and your email for a link.


Shabbat Morning Torah Study

Saturday, 5/16, 9:00-10:00am

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Havdallah with Rabbi David and Family

Saturday, 5/16

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