For Muslims, the time for the frestival of ‘Eid-ul-Fitr is announced according to the sighting of the new moon to end Ramadan and begin Shawwal. ‘Eid changes its day of the week and time of year from one ‘Eid to the next. Similarly, Christians are accustomed to the changing date of Easter Sunday because of the moon. And, Jewish festivals run upon a calendar determined by the moon.
Lag Ba’Omer is a minor Jewish festival that is celebrated between Passover and Shavuot, and, uncommonly, it does not fall upon an old, new, or full moon, but after a full moon. It marks the birtha nd death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. This year its time was last week. During its warm weather I noticed a couple of gardens parties – with hindsight, I now realise they may have been Lag Ba’Omer celebrations. Only this week did I actually delve into my children’s book about the festival and learn along with my children.
Did I discover a little too late? Am I writing too late? Well, the more I discover about diverse religions through their festivals and children’s literature over this year the more I appreciate the importance of quiet discovery in preparation for building relationships with understanding. So while my post may seem too late for readers to apply, it grants a good amount of time to internalise Lag Ba’Omer for next year and beyond.
I am more concerned with a slow, simple, and considerate multifaith journey than with rushing to keep up appearances upon a busy calendar. And, actually, when I stepped away from my slow and simple multifaith learning process to excitedly rush posts for Earth Day I lost my principles to some extent in my urgency and subsequently have been gratefully guided back to my priorities.
So, anyway, what book have I read for Lag Ba’Omer?
Sadie’s Lag Ba’Omer Mystery is an engaging quest that shows its protagonists identifying important objects from various Jewish festivals and engaging with several characters to discover what’s involved in the festival; it relates a story about Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who taught students Torah from a secret cave while a Roman emperor prohibited its study; and includes a charming refrain about the mystery of Lag Ba’Omer which is solved in the end. It’s a child-centred, warm, and gently informative story – I’m really pleased to have it.
‘Again!’ said my eldest child as soon as I finished reading. He also asked about the Roman emperor and paused for solemn thought when I explained that historical Roman rulers often tried to stop Jews from worshipping God because, like the Pharoah in Moses’ time, they wanted control. My heart ached to look at him love and respect Jews and know that I can’t hide from him forever that persecution in recent times has been horrendous … and is still a problem today. How long will my book about Jewish children and the Holocast remain on the shelf?
For next week I have another Sadie series story almost ready for my Muslim children – Sadie and the Big Mountain about the Jewish festival of Shavuot; I just need to colour over the depiction of Moses (upon him be peace) to make it a silhouette insha’Allah. Insha’Allah, for the families who are ahead of me in multifaith learning, perhaps already maintaining strong interfaith relations, and for those who enjoy punctuality, I’ll share that post on time.
Elizabeth Lymer is the author of Religious Rhyme Time, an Abrahamic children’s interfaith book, as well as Islamic Nursery Rhymes. She loves eating chocolate while she writes, and, with strictly chocolate-free fingers, she also creates Muslim and interfaith children’s gifts for book people at her Etsy shop, BarakahBedtimesUK. Elizabeth is a member of the Muslimah Writers Alliance. She’s on Twitter @elizabethlymer.