So today was Lag B'Omer, the Thirty-Third Day of the Omer (the Hebrew number thirty-three is denoted lamed-gimel, which spells lag). It started last night at sundown, and ended at sunset today.
Custom has it that no weddings take place during the Counting of the Omer, because of a plague that struck the disciples of Rabbi Akiva during this period. The exception is on Lag B'Omer, when weddings do take place, because on that day during the plague, nobody died.
Jeff explained this on Friday night at services, before we counted the Omer that night. First he joked that only Jews could make a holiday of a day when nobody died. (We laughed.) And then he observed that, in this day and age, when so many of us begin our mornings by turning on the radio or checking news online to see how many casualties the Iraq war has generated overnight, we might find ourselves identifying with the impulse to celebrate such a day. (We weren't laughing any more.)
Here's hoping for a day when we turn on the radio, or check our news aggregators, and don't hear a single thing about Iraq, Israel/Palestine, or anywhere else in the world where conflicts have been brewing -- not because the world isn't paying attention, but because the killing has finally stopped.