Iyar is the second of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.
Iyar comes at the same time as the secular months April/May.
The mazalGood fortune, luck, and the Hebrew sign of the Zodiac. (constellation) for Iyar is Taurus, shor (the ox). Iyar links together the months of Nisan and Sivan. Last month, Nisan, was the time when seeds were planted. In Iyar the ox ploughs the earth, nurturing the new seeds, helping them grow into the harvest of the coming month of Sivan.
Iyar also links the months of Nisan and Sivan through the counting of the OmerFrom the second day of Passover until Shavuot, Jews count seven weeks – seven times seven days – to commemorate the period between the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation at Sinai. When the Temple stood, a certain measure (omer) of barley was offered on the altar each day; today, we merely count out the days.. As we count the Omer, we experience our own growth, and the growth of the Jewish people. In Nisan we become a nation, born out of the Exodus from Egypt. In Iyar the Jewish people enters adolescence as we struggle to become a mature nation ready to receive the TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general. in Sivan.
In the Bible, the month of Iyar is called “Ziv,” meaning radiance.
The month of Iyar is commonly referred to as the month of natural healing, for its name is an acronym for Ani Adonai Rofecha, “I am G-d your Healer” (Exodus 15:26) .
Tradition teaches that Miriam’s Well first appeared during Iyar, as did manna, the food that sustained the ancient Israelites during their desert journey.
Yom Hazikaron (IsraelLit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel. Defense Forces Memorial Day) is observed on the 4th of Iyar. Many communities recite special memorial prayers on this day.
Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) is observed on the 5th of Iyar. Yom Ha’Atzmaut commemorates the establishment of modern Israel on this day in 1948. Many communities say special prayers of thanksgiving and hold celebratory feasts.
Lag B’OmerA spring festival. According to tradition, the plague which killed many of Rabbi Akiba's students lifted on the 33rd day of the Omer. Thus, while the Omer is observed as a period of mourning, mourning is lifted on Lag B'Omer. It is a popular day to get married (the only one during the Omer, according to Ashkenazic practice: from that day forward, according to Sephardic and modern liberal practice). The holiday is traditionally celebrated with bonfires, and three-year-old boys receive their first haircut. Today, some three-year-old girls will also have their hair cut amidst celebration on Lag B'Omer. (the 33rd Day of the Omer) falls on the 18th of Iyar. According to tradition, a plague afflicting many students of the great sage Akiba ceased on Lag B’Omer. Thus, the 18th of Iyar is a celebratory holy day in which joyous activities that are forbidden during the rest of the Omer period are permitted. These activities include weddings, picnics, and haircuts. Many communities celebrate Lag B’Omer with bonfires and picnics.
Yom YerushalayimLit. Jerusalem Day This Israeli national holiday commemorates the unification of Jerusalem under Israeli control after the Six Day War in 1967. It is celebrated on the 28th of the Jewish month of Iyar. (JerusalemLit. City of peace From the time of David to the Roman destruction, Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and the spiritual and governmental center of the Jewish people. During the long exile, Jews longed to return to Jerusalem and wrote poems, prayers, and songs about the beloved city. In 1967, with the capture of the Old City, Jerusalem was reunited, becoming "the eternal capital of Israel." Still, the longing for peace is unfulfilled. Reunification Day) is observed on the 28th of Iyar. This day commemorates the reunification of the city of Jerusalem in 1967.
Counting the Omer. In Leviticus, the third book of the Torah, it says, “You shall count … from the day that you brought the omer as a wave offering” (Leviticus 23:15) . The omer was a measure of barley that Jews brought as an offering to the Temple on the second day of PassoverPassover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God "passed over" the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc).. The Bible tells us to count 49 days from the bringing of the Omer until the eveEve, according to the book of Genesis, is Adam's wife, the first woman to be created. of ShavuotShavuot is the holiday fifty days after Passover and commemorates when the Israelite liberation from Egypt culminates with the giving of the Torah. Traditionally, Jews study in an all-night study session, eat dairy products (one interpretation is that the Torah is like milk to us), and read both the Ten Commandments and the Book of Ruth.. Although we no longer bring barley to the Temple, these seven weeks are still known as “The Omer,” and the ritual of counting each night is known as “Counting the Omer.”
The kabbalists (Jewish mystics) saw the Omer period as a time for preparing ourselves to receive Torah on Shavuot by reflecting on one’s personal qualities. They taught that each week of the Omer we should meditate on a different spiritual quality. The kabbalists associated each spiritual quality with a color and with a part of the body. Later thinkers associated each quality with a woman from Jewish history.
All of the females associated with the Omer are fabulous. Since many of the women are featured in other months, we chose RebeccaThe second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka. and her nurse Deborah (a different Deborah than the one in the Omer Chart) as our Fabulous Females of Iyar.
Rebecca is the second matriarch of the Jewish people. One day when Rebecca was at her family well, a stranger approached her and she rushed to give him and all of his camels enough water to drink. This stranger turned out to be Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, who was on a mission to find a suitable wife for Abraham’s son, IsaacAbraham and Sarah's much-longed-for son and the second Jewish patriarch. Isaac is nearly sacrificed by his father at God's command (Genesis 22). He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Esau and Jacob. His Hebrew name is Yitzchak.. Upon Eliezer’s request, Rebecca consented to marry Isaac. After a tearful goodbye in which she received her parents’ blessing, Rebecca and her nurse Deborah left her homeland and went with Eliezer to meet Isaac. It was love at first sight for both Rebecca and Isaac. Soon, Rebecca was pregnant with twins. She had a difficult pregnancy and cried out to God in pain. God answered her directly, a privilege granted no other woman in the Hebrew Bible, with the exception perhaps, of HagarAbraham's concubine and the mother of Ishmael, the patriarch of Islam. In the book of Genesis, when Sarah cannot conceive, she suggests that Abraham takeher servant Hagar as a concubine in order to conceive a child, which she promptly does. Feeling threatened by Hagar and her child, Sarah convinces Abraham to banish them from their home. God saves Hagar and Ishmael from dying in the desert.. God told Rebecca that the twins were struggling in her womb and that the “older was destined to serve the younger,” an unusual situation in those times. Years later Rebecca helps her son JacobLit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov. trick his father into giving him the blessing due his older brother so that God’s words would come true. We may not have enough information to really understand why God and Rebecca choose Jacob for leadership of the Jewish people, but Rebecca’s behavior does show us that people sometimes have to make hard choices.
Rebecca inspires us to rush to give freely and generously to those in need whose paths cross our own. She reminds us that God’s presence is with us even in the difficult times in our lives when we feel alone and in pain.
Deborah is Rebecca’s nurse. The Torah mentions this Deborah only twice – when she goes with Rebecca to live with Isaac, and when she dies and is buried. Deborah is the only servant in the Hebrew Bible whose death and burial is mentioned at all. Perhaps this indicates that Deborah was very important and beloved to Rebecca. She spent most of her life at Rebecca’s side and must have helped her through many difficult times.
Deborah invites our admiration for her hard work and her devotion. She reminds us to honor and celebrate the lives and work of nurses and healthcare workers in our day.
Since manna was first given in Iyar, foods that represent manna are wonderful for this month. The TalmudThe rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic. says that manna tasted different to different people: to young people it tasted like bread; to elderly people it tasted like oil (a delicacy in the desert); and to infants it tasted like honey (Yoma 75b). In many Jewish communities people bless two challahs on Friday night to represent the double portion of manna that the Israelites received on Friday nights so they would not have to forage for it on ShabbatShabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends. (Exodus 16:22-25). In Iyar, try eating challahBraided egg bread eaten on Shabbat and holidays. Reminiscent of bread eaten by Priests in the Temple, of manna in the desert, and sustenance in general. Plural: Hallot (or any other bread you enjoy) dipped in olive oil or honey. Bottled spring water can remind us of Miriam’s Well, which tradition says made its first appearance in Iyar. It’s also a great idea to eat Middle Eastern food such as falafel, humus, and Israeli salad in honor of Israel’s Independence Day.
This “Essence” is taken from the Sourcebook for Leaders, written by Rabbi RachelLavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. Gartner and Barbara Berley Melits, for Rosh HodeshThe new moon, which marks the beginning of the Jewish month. According to tradition, because women did not participate in the sin of the golden calf, they were given the holiday of Rosh Chodesh. It is customary for women not to work on Rosh Chodesh.: It’s a Girl Thing! This experiential program was created by Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies to strengthen the Jewish identity and self-esteem of adolescent girls through monthly celebrations of the New Moon festival. The program is now available through Moving Traditions.