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!

Jerusalem: Blue, White and Pink

Jerusalem: Blue, White and Pink

After heavy rains, blue skies were seen again over Jerusalem, Israel, by the end of the week.

View of Montefiore Windmill and King David Hotel Jerusalem Israel

Friday morning, in spite of rain in the forecast, the Montefiore Windmill, with King David Hotel in the distance, stood against the blue sky over Mishkanot Sha’ananim.

Blue and white flags over Jerusalem Israel streets

After Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day 70 years, flags did not come down. Even more blue and white flags have been hung in anticipation of Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day.

Israel, Jerusalem and Beit Hanasi flags

The new flags that were hung near Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, withstood the heavy rains.

Flag and flowers in Yemin Moshe Jerusalem Israel

This blue and white Israeli flag was hung on a gate in Yemin Moshe neighborhood.

After heavy rain water collected in site near Begin Center

But also on Friday morning there was evidence of the rain storms. You may have seen a video of water rushing through Yoel Salomon Street, carrying tables and shopping carts in the flooded road.

Stone fence down in Valley of Cross In Jerusalem Israel

Here in the Valley of the Cross, part of a stone fence fell down. I could not believe it the first time I saw the damage. It looks like heavy trucks hit it.

Stone fence down after days of heavy rain in Jerusalem

However, it appears two days of water flooding down the hill from the Rechavia neighborhood pushed over the old stones, and flattened the tall grass.

Memorial candles for 10 drowned students in flash flood in Negev

A flash flood in the south took the lives of 10 young Israelis. Memorial candles remain this week in Zion Square after a late night memorial gathering.

Two men washing traffic lights in Jerusalem

So after so much water, crews were out power washing traffic lights?

Flowers at Jerusalem intersection in butterfly frame

These flowers seemed to appreciate the soaking. Nearby in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, a large tree that fell was removed quickly.

NFNY cyclists on road in Jerusalem

In spite of the weather, professional cyclists were out on Friday morning for the Grand Fondo, GFNY.  Streets were closed for the cycling event.

But, their colors were green.

Pink?

Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria lobby flowers are pink orchids

Pink orchids in the lobby of the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria are not unusual.

Waldorf Astoria entrance with Israel Cycling Academy bus outside

But the Giro d’Italia is based at the hotel, and the bus of the Israel Cycling Academy was waiting outside.

Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria pink for Giro d'Italia

Not only has the hotel gone pink for the Giro d’Italia, check out those shoe laces – pink.

The Giro d’Itaia is the 3rd largest sporting event in world, after the World Cup and Tour de France.

The first start ever outside of Europe is taking place in — Jerusalem, Israel!

Kikar Safra for Giro d'Italia and Yom Yerushahaliym

Kikar Safra has large blue and white flags on display, plus pink signs near the giant stage set for Thursday evening’s preview opening.

Press conference for Israel Cycling Academy at Waldorf Astoria for Giro d'Iatalia

The Israel Cycling Academy includes professional cyclists from 16 locations around the world. Eight professional riders met with the media.

Their success in a only a few years is impressive. More here and next week on Giro d’Italia.

Jerusalem Education Week

Also in Jerusalem, new signs are up for education week.

lag B'Omer bonfire in Jerusalem, Israel

Finally, one of my favorite scenes from this week. A group of parents were out in the evening supervising an early Lag B’Omer medurah in an area set aside for large bonfires.

Lag B’Omer with its huge fires should fill the air with smoke starting Wednesday night at sunset.

However, this year, though there was so much rain last week, it is hot and dry today. A ban on bonfires has been declared.

Rain is again in the forecast. The only thing for sure here, is that there is no sure thing.

Projects for sustainability for Jerusalem

New signs announcing events for “Creating Sustainability in Jerusalem” were posted.  Cycling and fewer bonfires are a start.

Jerusalem street signs for cycling events

Many residents are not happy with street closings for the cycling events. But I hope people will get out and appreciate the positive world attention focused on Israel as billions watch the Giro d’Italia Start in Jerusalem, going north and then down to Eilat.

There was so much more happening this week in Jerusalem, but enough for now.

Hard to believe that next week will there will be much more happening.