Bonfires, Marriages Mark Joyful Celebration of Lag B’omer in Israel

With many colorful ceremonies, all of Israel today celebrated Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the 49-day period of the “counting of the Omer” between Passover and Shavuot.

Beginning early this morning, immediately after midnight, hundreds of bonfires were lighted on hills and mountain tops all over Israel. On the fields in and surrounding the city of Meron, in Upper Galilee, more than 60,000 Israelis and tourists gathered for special ceremonies traditionally performed there.

Among other events connected with Lag B’Omer is celebration of the beginning of the revolt against the Romans, launched by Bar Kochba in the year 132 of the Common Era. At Meron, specifically, religious Jews gather at a grave believed to be the burial place of Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai, who is presumed to have been the author of the Zohar, one of Orthodox Jewry’s holiest of books.

As giant bonfires were lighted on the hills surrounding Meron, night-long singing and dancing festivities were begun by the many thousands assembled in the area. All over Israel, countless wedding ceremonies were performed today. Under religious law, no marriage ceremonies may be held during the days of the counting of the Omer except on this day.

All schools in Israel were on holiday today. Hundreds of thousands of children participated in outdoor sports, and Boy Scouts held encampments in fields and on mountain tops.

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