Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes
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This is the place!
- 49 pieces of construction paper
There is a mitzva for us to count 49 days, 7 weeks, between Pesach and Shavuot. In fact, the Torah doesn’t even give us a date for Shavuot, it simply tells us that it is the 50th day after Pesach. Originally this time was the period that we could not eat new wheat. On shavuot they would bring the korban omer, and then wheat grown that year could be eaten.
Game 1: Sorry
Set up the room like a “Sorry” Board with 49 spaces. You can either put the chanichim in teams of 2-4 people, or everyone for themselves. You role a die and can move that many spaces. The goal is to get to the end of the board. (or if on a team, for the whole team to get there.) If someone lands on the same space as you, the stationary person must go back to start. To make the game more exciting, you could instead have people on the same space have a competition of some sort over who goes back.
Discussion: This symbolizes the 49 days we count the omer. We count at night. What happens if you mess up and don’t count at night? You can count during the day without a bracha, and then resume counting at night. But if you forget a whole day, you keep counting without a bracha the rest of the omer. We count both by weeks and by days (27 days, which is 3 weeks and 6 days, for example.)
Alternately, you could make a big version of Snakes and Ladders.
Game 2: Octopus
One person is chosen to stand in the middle of the room. Everyone else runs back and forth from wall to wall. If he catches someone, they stay and help him in the middle catching everyone else. When one person is left, he wins.
Discussion: At the time of Rabbi Akiva, the omer became a period of mourning for the jews. Rabbi Akiva had 24,000 pairs of students, and they all died in this period because they didn’t treat each other with respect. So it became a sad time for us. It was very crucial, because Rabbi Akiva lived before the Mishna and Talmud were written down, and if he had died without any students, no one would have remembered Halacha properly anymore. Fortunately, he found 5 more students that he taught before he died. In addition, during the crusades the period was accepted as even more of a time of mourning. During the Omer different people have different minhagim about what they can or can’t do. You can’t get married or listen to live music. Some people don’t shave or listen to even the radio or tapes, or go to movies.