What have you been counting lately? Days? Weeks? Months?
A half a million Israeli children went back to gan, nursery school, this morning. Parents have been counting the days for these youngsters who were home to return to their organized classrooms with warm and welcoming, smiling teachers. More than the usual apprehension was behind this “first day” of school – for the second first day of school this year – for their little ones. This new round of “first-day” photos filled Whatsapp groups and Facebook pages.
Children from grades 1-3 went back to school last week. Also, those students in grades 11-12 who have been counting the days until the end of the year or end of school exams.
Hundreds counted the days for the Machane Yehudah Market, shuk, to reopen. Long lines of customers appeared wanting to enter on the first day, Thursday, May 7th, as seen in a video taken by tour guide Eli V.
Transportation, parks, museums are opening, including the Jerusalem Aquarium.
I lost count long ago of the number and reasons for recent protests. Buses lined the road to the Knesset this past week for one.
Counting the days of the week until Shabbat is the old normal.
Jews have been counting the days from Pesach until Shavuot for centuries. During the 49 day time period, the 33rd day or Lag B’Omer has been a day of celebration. In Israel, huge bonfires have been the norm, with children starting before Pesach to gather wood of all types to burn on that night.
This year Lag B’Omer, starting May 11 at night, is to be very different.
From Thursday, May 7, 2020, until Wednesday, May 13, 2020, lighting fires are prohibited throughout the country.
Lighting bonfires and being present near bonfires will be prohibited, except for the bonfires on Mt. Meron according to special directives. The huge fires in Jerusalem parks and open spaces as in the past are not to be this year.
Jerusalem for Lag B’Omer usually is not the place to be.
However, Meron is where tens of thousands of people converge.
Last year I shared photos of Meron without crowds.
For the upcoming holiday of Lag B”Omer, 3 bonfires are to be lit on Mount Meron. One for Ashkenazi Jews, one for Sephardi Jews and one for the Religious-Zionist community, with no more than 50 people at each.
Rabbi Haim Drukman will lead the bonfire of the Religious-Zionist community, the bonfire for Ashkenazi Jews is meant to be lit by head of the Boyan Hassidic dynasty Rabbi Nachum Dov Brayer and the bonfire for Sephardi Jews is to be lit by Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar.
From Thursday, May 14, 2020, until 6:00 am on Sunday, May 17, 2020, entry to – and presence in – the immediate area of the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and the community of Meron shall be prohibited, including the renting of bed-and-breakfasts and guestrooms in this area to anyone who does not reside there, as stated in the official government memo.
But note near the end of official notice – the Religious Services Minister shall give equal representation to various communities, including fair representation for women.