Secular Israelis Learn to Count the Omer on TV
For the first time, Israel television will be broadcasting educational segments relating to the counting of the Omer (sefirat ha'omer), describing the commandment, the philosophy behind it, and its relationship to modern events. For many Israelis, this is the first serious intellectual exposure to the commandment of counting the Omer.
The counting of the Omer begins on the second night of Passover, in commemoration of the newly harvested first stalks of wheat brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Omer period also commemorates the deaths of the tens of thousands of Torah students of Rabbi Akiva nearly 2,000 years ago.
The segments are narrated by actor Noam Yaakovson, who uses humor and other means to express concepts and themes to viewers. Along with stories, bits of Talmudic wisdom, and historical insights, Yaakovson discusses the laws counting the Omer, who is required to count, when, and how. The segments are broadcast at the end of the nightly Mabat newscast on Channel 1.
Yaakovson is a well-known figure in Israeli religious circles, but has recently begun reaching out beyond the borders of the community.