The Ball Shem Tov’s Occasional Guide to Jewish Life: Lag B’Omer

Our resident expert (??) on Jewish life, ritual and smoked meat is our Communications Director Jim Ball (aka The Ball Shem Tov), who will occasionally answer questions and give advice to our readers. (Full disclosure: he does not have rabbinic smichah, but he has read a lot of books).

Our Topic: How does one deal with Lag B’Omer tradition during a Nor’easter?

Dear Ball Shem Tov: I have a wedding planned for Lag B’Omer this Sunday and it seems there’s going to be a big rain storm. What should I do?

BST: Oy. I hope it’s not an outdoor wedding. If it is, make sure you have a very large tent on high ground. Boots and galoshes for all guests is a must (mud is yuk). Good to have umbrellas for your guests. Towels. Lots of towels (they make nice wedding favors, too, although it’s probably too late to get them monogrammed).

Dear Ball Shem Tov: I know getting a haircut on Lag B’Omer is traditional. But my hair dresser is closed on Sunday? What can I do?

BST: This one of those problems that arise when the Hebrew calendar and the secular calendar conflict. I’d suggest you take Amtrak to NY, then the subway to Brooklyn, where there are many Jewish hairdressers and barber shops open specifically to cut hair on Lag B’Omer. There are still attractive rates on Amtrak, but I’d Google haircuts in Brooklyn to find the right place. It may be crowded. Alternatively, you can contact me off line and I can give you my friend Pete’s wife’s number—she does a pretty good job. I would avoid trying to do it yourself with one of those kits from the CVS.

Dear Ball Shem Tov: We were planning an Israeli-style barbecue and bonfire Sunday—all the food is bought, 20 guests invited, and now this storm. Any ideas?

BST: It’s probably too late to rent a tent. And unless you have a grill cover, you can forget about the barbecue. Besides, there is nothing good about soggy smoked brisket and hot dogs. I’d change the date of the barbecue—you can just pretend it’s Lag B’Omer later. Or, if you’re willing to move indoors, Amazon has some stovetop smokers and grills, prices ranging from $13 – $75 (but you’ll need more than one for that crowd). Make sure you have Amazon Prime and that it is available for quick shipping. As for the bonfire—got a fireplace? Might work…but, nah. And, of course, I hope you invited your Mother, because in all the Lag B’Omer planning, DID YOU REMEMBER IT’S MOTHERS’ DAY?!!!!