Lag B’Omer and Meron

Lag B’Omer and Meron

In Jerusalem, Israel, there were people of all ages, who in spite of the heat wave made their medurot, bonfires, on Lag B’Omer.

On Lag B’Omer smoke and fire are a tradition.

bonfire on lag b'Omer

Remember this RJS photo? Medurot are not little fires to roast marshmallows or cook potatoes in the coals. Many are crafted with all types of wood collected and saved for months.

Lag B'Omer bon fire in Jerusalem

In Jerusalem for Lag B’Omer  five years ago, I saw this controlled fire raging. This year there was no authorized huge fire in the area. Fewer individual bonfires as in the past could be spotted. Perhaps the 500 shekel fine controlled them or the official warnings?

But for Lag B’Omer, Jerusalem, Israel, is not the place to be for serious celebrants.

There are those who go year after year to Meron for Lag B’Omer.

Meron trip in July

Estimates vary, it is hard to count, as tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, converge into the mountain location, from all over Israel to these simple roads.

In preparation for Lag B’Omer, I took photos of what Meron looked like on a normal day, without a million people crushing together in the dark around a huge medura.

Building site in Meron

‘Nah Nachman MaUman’ was graffiti written on the wall of future visitor center.

Art seller in Meron

A vendor was selling portraits from a trailer.

Tourist gift shop in Meron

Souvenirs were available for tourists. It was a regular hot summer day. People come to Meron to visit or pray not just on Lag B’Omer. 

Entrances for men and women in Meron

There are separate entrances for men and women.

A large sign warns in bold Hebrew letters to “dress modestly.”

July day at Meron

There is more than one sign concerning dress code. I did not notice any no smoking signs.

Women at Meron

Inside, the tomb of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Shimon Bar Yochai, or Rashbi.

Meron women praying

On this quiet summer afternoon, a few women were deeply into their prayers.

Meron chair outside in sun

Outside, was this special chair. Many three year-old boys come to Meron for their first haircut. Especially on Lag B’Omer day, this would be one busy item for those traditional first snips of fine baby hair.

Meron synagogue inside

There was one small room, the study hall named in memory of Asher. It could provide some relief on a hot day for that hair cut.

Blue dome at Meron in day light

This blue dome over the tomb was easy to photograph in the sunshine. Now imagine it with hundreds of men crowded in it at midnight.

Lighting candles in Meron

This is a sign pointing to a room designated for lighting memorial candles.

People having lunch in Meron in summer

On a regular summer day, you can sit and eat on a covered outdoor patio. The view of the mountain range is spectacular.

Meron new tourist center

This was a sign announcing a project to build a guest center for study of Torah, in honor of Rashbi. 

But on Lag B’Omer night, Meron has medurot at its center. With singing and dancing, well into the early hours. Participants often arrive back home in time for dawn’s light. Hours are spent getting to Meron and then more hours are spent trying to return home.

Meron birds in tree above

I noticed the birds above watching over us that day. In the smoke and confusing of Lag B’Omer night, they would hide away in safety.

As I did this year, I was home with windows shut to keep out the smoke and heat.

Maybe one day I will finally get to Meron for Lag B’Omer.

Meanwhile, this video came up a on search for Rashbi.

Kinneret as seen from bus leaving Meron

A view of the Kinneret, Sea of Galilee, is always worth the trip up the mountain to Meron.

It amazes each year how there are not more serious injuries with the heat, fire, and crowds.

Another Israel miracle?

Southern Israel Red Alerts in Alumim

Southern Israel Red Alerts in Alumim

Sometimes you have to get out of Jerusalem, Israel, to appreciate the view.

View from Highway One Jerusalem Israel

All this rain we have been having may dampen our spirits, but it is fabulous for making the countryside green.

View from Jerusalem Highway 1

From the roads leading out of Jerusalem the valley is at its best.

Israel lines along road

Once on the road south, you see flat land and wires stretched across it.

Southern Israel farm land from highway

Farmers working between the rain storms along the way.

Sign from Red South Israel spring flower Adom Festival

February and March, and southern Israel is famous for its red flower festival.

However, once again southern Israel has red alerts, not flowers.

Kibbutz Alumim sign southern Israel

The sign at Kibbutz Alumim was the same as  on our previous visit in December 2012.

Kibbutz Alumim security fence

The electric security fence was opened carefully for our arrival.

Kibbutz Alumim green fields southern Israel

The green fields of the agricultural kibbutz stretched into the distance.

Kibbutz Alumim fence with warning sign to border of Aza

But it you turned around, another sign warned of the Gaza border ahead.

Kibbutz Alumim view of Gaza southern Israel

From the fields of Kibbutz Alumim, the Gaza border and buildings beyond are clearly in view.

Kibbutz Alumim bomb shelters near factory

Because of missiles and rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israel, these bomb shelters are situated next to the factory. Workers have seconds to get inside to safety when a red alert warns of an oncoming projectile.

Kibbutz Alumim Iron Dome southern Israel

Alumim has two Iron Domes positioned for protection from Hamas and its rockets.

Kibbutz Alumim in spring southern Israel green

Why live in southern Israel? It’s beautiful. Israelis have made the desert bloom.

Aluim collection of rockets and missiles fired at southern Israel from Gaza

When Hamas is not firing these missiles, it is a wonderful place.

Long time resident Esther took time to share with us a bit of her story.

Southern Israel Kibbutz Alumim bomb shelter in home, bedroom safe room.

Rafi’s house, and every home, has a bomb shelter bedroom. Sealed rooms have again become a necessity with nightly rockets from Gaza.

Twenty years living under fire from Gaza. Esther and others try to keep a positive attitude, to make music chimes from missiles.

Kibbutz Alumim in southern Israel

Kibbutz Alumim had no red alerts when we were there last week, after a night of terror when a house in Sderot was hit. However, the newest round of red alerts included Alumim. The residents of southern Israel are weary, tired of red alerts, and want to go back to being known for their red flowers.