The central Lag Ba'Omer celebration of religious Zionism will be held tonight at 23:00, at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron. This year due to the coronavirus pandemic there will be a limited number of bonfires with only 50 participants.
Religious Zionism leader and Bnei Akiva Yeshivot and Ulpanot head Rabbi Chaim Druckman will light the torch, together with Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Yitzhar Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva David Dudkevich, who for a decade have been jointly lighting the Rashbi bonfire. The lighting will be joined by other rabbis, heads of congregations, and community rabbis from across the country.
The lighting will begin with a special get-together to be held at the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva in Meron. The purpose of the gathering that has been held for several years is to open the heart to the teachings of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in special Israeli style.
Participants will continue, from midnight onwards, from the yeshiva to the lighting site at the Rashbi Tomb in Meron.
In light of the limited number of bonfires this year, organizers turned to Jewish communities in Israel and around the world to participate in the lighting remotely with the help of Zoom software.
Dozens of Jewish communities in the world will appear tonight on the giant screens in Meron, expressing their deep connection and power emanating from the Rashbi's tomb to anyone wishing to participate in the lighting and to Jewish communities worldwide who also face the coronavirus pandemic.
Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotritz asked the Religious Services Minister to arrange a bonfire for religios Zionism as well, and will also participate.
According to Community Rabbinical Association Chairman Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu: "We're excited to continue the tradition of my late grandfather Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu this year despite the challenges of coronavirus. On behalf of all of Israel, we will connect with Rabbi Shimon's teachings and pray for the entire nation of Israel."
Bnei Akiva Yeshivot and Ulpanot head Elhanan Glatt added: "The event every year on Lag Ba'Omer celebrates the great unity of all Israel in love for Torah, Judaism, and tradition. This year, in the absence of a large crowd, we'll endeavor to strengthen the inner meaning of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's teachings. Even when not everyone is physically there, you can feel like one people with one heart in the most genuine way, all of them connecting and uniting with the same love of all Israel."
Roeh Yisrael Yeshiva in Yitzhar Director Yehoshua Gelbard noted: "It's exciting to see how an event that was small just a decade ago is increasing in size compared to the dimensions we saw last year. This year, it tugs at the heart that we won't see the tens of thousands of people coming here, but we'll make every effort to be loyal messengers and representatives of everyone."
The gathering and lighting will be broadcast live on Arutz Sheva, on the YouTube Torah Channel of the Community Rabbis Association, and on the Bnei Akiva Yeshivot and Ulpanot Facebook page.