Audio: Lag BaOmer Bonfires, Loud Music, and Crowds

The sociomystical aspects of Lag baOmer - Israel's religious mega-event!
5/17/2011, 8:34 PM

A7 Radio's "Welcome to the Tribe" with Gabriella Licsko
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Next week Israel celebrates Lag BaOmer - and the yahrzeit of the Tanna Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who popular tradition attributes authorship fo the Zohar ( "The Book of Splendor, " the central book of Jewish mysticism). There will be celebrations all over Israel, but the real mega-event will be in Meron at the grave of the Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai). But why celebrate - and what do we celebrate? In the west memorials are solemn, even grave occassions - so why make a hillula (celebration) with singing and dancing?

Become familiar with the mystical, and also very very practical, details of the event! The latter cannot be ignored ignore because over the years a whole industry has been built up around the event. Learn about Meron's significance in the Jewish mystical traditition - and the story and history of modern day Moshav Meron - and how it has changed over time!
How many people will attend the celebration this year, and which sectors of Israeli society they represent? When do the organizers start preparing for the event? Which organizations are involved in these preparations? Why do chessed organizations give out food and drink for free to everybody - and how come raspberry juice and coffe is flowing from the tap?
Why would you need a medura (bondfire) on a warm summer day - and who has the privilege to light it? What`s the significance of playing the same three songs over and over? Who plays in the band? How much do accomodations costs for this very special night - and what happens with those who cannot afford the cost?
Our guest for this show is Mrs. Leah Farkash, who will reveal for us the spiritual and practical aspects of the day. Mrs Farkash is the PR manager of a prestigious Chessed Organisation ( which doesen`t want to be named), and she is highly involved in the organizing of many Meron based events. Leah Farkash will also share with us her story - how a Portugese Jew from Paramaribo, Surinam ended up marrying a Hungarian Spinke Chassid in Jerusalem!

Listen and find out!

Gabriella Licsko is a lecturer on Jewish history and society focusing on different religious communities. She leads tours of different neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well as tours across the country. Gabriella holds a bachelor's degree in Culture Studies and a master's degree in Jewish Studies and made aliyah from Hungary in 2007. She hosts the Welcome to the Tribe podcast every Tuesday from 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Israel National Radio.
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