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.
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.
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.
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.
‘Nah Nachman MaUman’ was graffiti written on the wall of future visitor center.
A vendor was selling portraits from a trailer.
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.
There are separate entrances for men and women.
A large sign warns in bold Hebrew letters to “dress modestly.”
There is more than one sign concerning dress code. I did not notice any no smoking signs.
Inside, the tomb of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Shimon Bar Yochai, or Rashbi.
On this quiet summer afternoon, a few women were deeply into their prayers.
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.
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.
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.
This is a sign pointing to a room designated for lighting memorial candles.
On a regular summer day, you can sit and eat on a covered outdoor patio. The view of the mountain range is spectacular.
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.
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.
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?