Foto Friday – Israel’s on fire… in a good way

May 20, 2011 - 9:31 PM by

Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer, the seven week period enumerated between the Passover and Shavuot holidays, is one of those holidays that Israelis love to celebrate, even if they’re not clear on exactly why.

That is because on Lag BaOmer we have bonfires and that can mean only one thing: another excuse to barbecue! (Brian has written more about that aspect including some historical background).

This is also the holiday where kids and adults alike can indulge their inner pyromaniac. And before that, their inner kleptomaniac or at least their inner disposophobe. For weeks now, any stray board or log has been fair game, collected and hoarded with care in preparation for Lag BaOmer eve.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Omer is treated like a period of mourning. But on Lag BaOmer, the restrictions of mourning are lifted for a day; weddings can take place, people can listen to music, have parties, and get haircuts. Among Orthodox Jews, there is a tradition of a first haircut for long-locked three year-old boys at Mount Meron in northern Israel.

Meron is the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, student of Rabbi Akiva who went on to become the greatest scholar of his time and authored the Zohar compendium of Jewish mysticism. On Lag BaOmer, the anniversary of his death, thousands gather at Meron to celebrate his life.

Photo by Jonathan Stein, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

No less of a party will be held this weekend at Tel Aviv’s HaOman 17, sister club to the legendary HaOman 17 in Jerusalem which was at the peak of its popularity during the second Intifada in the Nineties. (That Israeli characteristic of insisting on having a good time in the face of danger was profiled in the book Dancing With Tears in Their Eyes).

Photo by Pini Siluk

The Tel Aviv branch was just named Israel’s best dance club in a new poll taken by energy drink company XL. And that is how we Israelis are entering into the summer season: fire-dancing, barbecue and drink in hand, and with a fresh new haircut.

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