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?

The Minimalist Guide to Jerusalem Between Passover and Lag B’Omer

The Minimalist Guide to Jerusalem Between Passover and Lag B’Omer

Oh, Jerusalem!

Does anyone else remember the good old days back in America?

The quiet time between Passover and Lag B’Omer. There were no weddings. Live musical performances were taboo. Parties were rare. Then starting on Lag B’Omer celebrations would begin again.

Not so in here in Jerusalem. There is no down time!

Jerusalem synagogue with Israeli flags in front

Flags, flags, more flags. In Jerusalem it is a season of flags and flowers and celebrations.

Eurovision was held in Tel Aviv, getting much media attention.

Stand with Us banner on tower on Ayalon Highway for Eurovivion visitors.

Driving through Tel Aviv on the Ayalon Highway, the only sign of Eurovision I saw was this huge banner from StandWithUs offering tourists a trip to see to see coexistence.

Head riders in GFNY

On the Jerusalem streets, GFNY, the cycling race where amateurs can ride with the pros, streets were closed on the first Friday morning in May.

GFNY riders cycling past the Knesset

Going past the Knesset the lead cyclists were going too fast to get a clear image.

Close to 900 riders took part in the race, which included three routes of various lengths.

Sign on Gaza Street for riders in GFNY

One warning sign was still left on Azza Street this week. I often say Jerusalem streets all go up!

At least on a bike, one has to slow down.

Happenings on Jerusalem streets seem to never slow down.

Sport Week in Israel is from May 17 – 24. On May 17th, there was another Jerusalem cycling event. But for that amateur race fewer streets were closed.

Also, there was the International Writers Festival and Jerusalem Book Forum, from May 12-16, for the less athletic types.  Authors and publishers came to Jerusalem from thirty countries, and the program included live music, panels discussions, and lectures in varied venues.

Jerusalem Prize winner Joyce Carol Oates

At the opening at the YMCA, Joyce Carol Oates received the Jerusalem Prize from Mayor Moshe Lion. In her acceptance remarks, Oates spoke about her grandmother who gave her an early love of books and writing.

one day conference held at Hanson house

The Hansen House hosted a Conference on Design.

It’s hard to keep track. So many different events and signs are posted.

US Embassy in Jerusalem one year sign by FoZ

The Prime Minister’s office announced that the PM was to mark one-year of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel.

I was on my way to the David Citadel Hotel for the event, when I noticed this sign.

Bus praising Trump by Friends of Zion Museum

In front to the hotel was a bus with “Thank you, President Trump, Thank You, America” boldly posted on the side.

David Friedman US Ambassador to Israel

It turned out to be an event with US Ambassador David Friedman.

Rabbi David Lau speaking about his family in Poland

On the stage Chief Rabbi David Lau spoke about mezuzahs.

A mezuzah was completed on stage with the Prime Minister and the US Ambassador.

Jerusalem US Embassy celebrated

A special silver case for the mezuzah was presented by the Friends of Zion to the US Ambassador for use on the new official US Residence in Jerusalem.

Sign on US Embassy in Jerusalem Israel

At the end of the program, a copy of the new Embassy sign was displayed on stage.

MK Tzipi Hotovely and Tammy Friedman were kind enough to pose with it for a photo.

That night included impassioned speeches, dignitaries, good food, and wine.

Night in front of US Embassy on May 14

But I think my favorite scene was on the way home. This pile of empty boxes was left on the street. Outside the former US Consulate, now the US Embassy Building, it looked like moving day.

Across Agron Street in Gan Haatzmaut, Independence Park, was a large sign saying, “Happy Independence Day.”

Israeli flags were on light poles, decorated this month with Ramadan holiday lights.

In this time from Passover to Lag B’Omer, we have had no shortage of celebrations.

The Jerusalem Bird Observatory celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Roof of Jerusalem Bird Sanctuary in spring

On the day of the Jerusalem Marathon, its green roof was really green.

The rain was a blessing. There was more than usual this year.

Jerusalem Park dry grass

But now open areas are dry. A severe heat wave is on the way.

While the main Lag B’Omer celebration is in Meron,  young people in Jerusalem have been saving and storing wood for large holiday bonfires.

Chabad sign for Lag B'Omer march and celebration in Jerusalem

Signs are up. Parades. Parties. Carnivals. Music. Lag B’Omer ready.

The usual large bonfires are banned and fires must be more controlled this year.

Museums are free on May 23, Lag B’Omer.

US Embassy sign on Agron Street building on May 14, 2019

Welcome to Jerusalem Friedman family.

Hope you enjoy your new residence.

But be advised to keep your windows closed on  Lag B’Omer.

Always so much happening on the Jerusalem streets.

There was more, but as this is getting way too long, saving some special happenings for next time.

Here we go again, Happy Lag B’Omer!

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembered in Jerusalem

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembered in Jerusalem

They tried to kill us. We are here.

The official Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day took place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Warsaw Ghetto Square of Yad Vashem, on Mount of Remembrance, near Har Herzl in Jerusalem, Israel. 

Holocaust Memorial IDF honor guard

The IDF honor guard posed for photographers before the ceremony.

Two women greeting at ceremony for Yom Hahsoah

For the invited guests it is a time to see and greet long time friends.

Group of German journalists for Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jerusalem Israel

This year a group of German journalists attended.

Holocaust memorial Israeli President Rivlin first speaker

After dark, the Israeli flag was lowered to half mast, and a ceremonial flame was lit.

Israeli President Rivlin at yad Vashem

President Reuven Rivlin was the first speaker.

Israeli Prime Minister at Yom Hashoan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke next.

There were musical interludes, and dramatic readings.

Six torches lit by survivors at Yad Vashem for Yom Hashoah

Before each one of the six survivors lit their torch, a short video about their lives was screened.

Each flame represents one million lost souls, murdered in Holocaust.

Honor guard at Holocaust Remembrance Day opening ceremony at Yad Vashem

Meanwhile, the honor guard stood at attention the entire time.

Netanyahu greeting honor guard

As last year, the Prime Minister went to shake hands with the soldiers in the honor guard.

Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem head of IDF speaking with Sara Netanyahu

As last year, while the event was being televised, movement was restricted. (Ok, I thought it was much better this year, maybe because there were fewer foreign photographers?) But as soon as the official program was over, I was able to go up front and take this photo. The honor guard was still at attention, but the rest of us were talking and heading home.

At Yad Vashem, the crowd stood still for HaTikvah.

HaTikvah, The Hope, takes on greater meaning when remembering the past.

The Jerusalem Municipality also marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with a ceremony held in Kikar Safra, Safra Square, the mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion, city council members, survivors, attended the event, which was open to the public. This year the ceremonies were under the theme “War Within a War – the struggle for survival of Jews in the Holocaust.”

Zichron B’Salon, Memories in Living Room, hosted dozens of smaller, parlor meetings in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day. In private homes throughout the city of Jerusalem survivors retold their stories in these more intimate groups and settings. President Reuven Rivlin hosted a group in Beit Hanasi on Sunday morning as he has done for the past several years.

Restaurants and entertainment venues were closed at night.

The next morning on May 2, a memorial siren sounded at 10:00 am.

A wreath laying ceremony was held at Yad Vashem.

Organizations, communities, schools, and businesses held programs, with survivors speaking.

The Knesset had a special recitation of names of Nazi victims.

Israel memorial day flame on Jerusalem synagogue

Flags on public buildings flew at half-mast and memorial flames were displayed.

Child survivors are aging.  We cannot change the past. Now that they have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, they are celebrating.  The grandchildren and great-grandchildren are the future.  “This is our revenge,” I have heard over and over. They are celebrating life. We are here.

Light a torch at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah

So many stories. So many memories of tragedies and miracles.

Six million murdered by Nazis is too hard to comprehend.

Where were the civilized countries? Canada. British in Palestine. The United States.

All turned their backs.

To conclude, one memory, from one friend from Kristalnacht, the night the world turned dark.