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Tags - israeli culture
During the holiday of Lag BaOmer in Israel every open space is filled with enormous bonfires, boisterous kids, sizzling food, and energetic conversation and laughter. My apartment, or flat as they call it here, is right on the border of civilization and acres of sprawling farmland. I enjoy having the option of going out of my parking lot and choosing either coffee to the left or fresh orange pickings from the orchards to the right.
Last night it seemed that all of Ra'anana decided to camp to the right of my flat. I never cease to be amazed at how holidays seems to pop-up around every corner of the calendar here in Israel. I still don't really understand Lag BaOmer, but it is rather impressive to see massive camp fires throughout densely populated areas. When I say "massive camp-fires" I don't think you can really appreciate it without seeing it. (photos below)
For a few weeks before the holiday school kids are strolling around local grocery store carts on a scavenger hunt for anything that will burn. They dumpster dive for old picture frames and doors, limbs cut from trees to clear roadways and large card board boxes cast off from newly purchased appliances.
After the sun sets on Lag Ba'Omer kids, teachers and parents fill open lots around the city and kindle the fires. I read that during the Middle Ages, Lag BaOmer was called the "scholar's festival" and it became customary to rejoice on this day through various kinds of merrymaking.
In the Talmud it says that 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died from a plague sent by God to punish them for not showing proper respect to one another. Lag BaOmer was supposedly the day the plague ended.
I think for most Israeli's it is simply a chance to celebrate, and in this highly pressurized country it seems everyone is always ready for another reason to eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow is always uncertain.
Israeli's live with a lot of gusto! It seems almost everything is done to the extreme. I laugh with my husband, Yuval, about the crowded stores when Shabbat comes to a close. On Saturday night, I think every Israeli rejoices in the end of the 24-hour Sabbath rest. I think the fourth commandment is kept through gritted teeth for many Israelis.
Yuval joked that every Saturday night, after the end of Shabbat, is like Black Friday in the U.S. Black Friday being the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day in the entire year. It's true, there are literally huge lines outside of grocery stores, malls, cinemas and restaurants. How do I know? Well, we usually find ourselves right in the middle of it.
I do things here in Israel that I would never do in the U.S. It just somehow comes naturally to stand in crowded lines, talk to strangers and rush out get a glimpse at any new attraction no matter how many people have the same inclination. Israel's live out the adage well: "Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today."
Back to BaOmer - besides the rowdy teens singing and yelling outside our window till around 3am, I found it a really neat expression of life, community and joy. I still don't know how all the cities in Israel don't go up in flames, but the holiday is truly bigger than life and I can only imagine the magic of the evening in the eyes of children. I love the family-oriented culture here in Israel and the effervescent holiday spirit that seems to permeate every month of the Jewish calendar.
Living life in the Holy Land