IN PICTURES: Hundreds of thousands mark Lag Bao'mer in Meron

The traditional central bonfire just outside of Meron was lit by Hassidic leader Rabbi Eliezer Berland.

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May 3, 2018 11:10
2 minute read.
Thousands celebrate Lag BaOmer in the northern Israeli city of Meron

Thousands celebrate Lag BaOmer in the northern Israeli city of Meron. (photo credit: EITAN ELHADAZ/TPS)

 
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In Meron, where hundreds of thousands of Jews descend yearly upon the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to mark the date of his death on Lag Bao'mer, bonfires were lit on Wednesday night despite warnings of unseasonably dry weather and after many municipalities had scaled back in fear of disasters.

Thousands celebrate Lag BaOmer at the tomb of the Rashbi (Shimon bar Yochai) in the northern Israeli city of Meron (EITAN SHWEIBER/TPS)

The traditional central bonfire just outside of Meron was lit by Hassidic leader Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who drew controversy after being convicted for sexual assault.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland lighting the Lag BaOmer bonfire at the tomb of the Rashbi (Shimon bar Yochai) in the northern Israeli city of Meron (SARA HERSHKOF/TPS)

Berland, the head of the Shuvu Banim community of the Breslov Hassidic sect, was convicted in a November 2016 plea bargain of two counts of indecent assault for sexual attacks on two women, as well as instructing one of his followers to assault the husband of one of the women he sexually assaulted. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail but was released under house arrest following an urgent operation in February.

Worshippers celebrate Lag BaOmer in the northern Israeli city of Meron (EITAN ELHADAZ/TPS)

During Wednesday night and Thursday's celebrations, 211 people had to be treated in Meron as a result of a variety of injuries including contusions, dehydration, falls from heights, snake bites and scorpion stings, fainting and other medical conditions, United Hatzalah reported.

Thousands celebrate Lag BaOmer at the tomb of the Rashbi (Shimon bar Yochai) in the northern Israeli city of Meron (SARA HERSHKOF/TPS)

Lag Bao'mer marks the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, a 49-day period of introspection and anticipation, which starts on the second day of Passover and culminates in the joyful holiday of Shavuot. Lag Bao'mer interrupts the solemn atmosphere of the Omer and marks the hillula - the celebration of the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who, on his deathbed, was revealed the deepest secrets of Jewish mysticism in the form of the Zohar.

Thousands celebrate Lag BaOmer at the tomb of the Rashbi (Shimon bar Yochai) in the northern Israeli city of Meron (EITAN SHWEIBER/TPS)

On Lag Bao'mer, all restrictions of mourning are lifted for one day and traditionally weddings, parties, listening to music and haircuts are allowed. Lighting bonfires and the upsherin, a haircutting ceremony which is carried out when a boy turns three years old, have become well-known traditions on Lag Bao'mer.

The Lag BaOmer bonfire at the tomb of the Rashbi (Shimon bar Yochai) in the northern Israeli city of Meron (SARA HERSHKOF/TPS)

Thousands celebrate Lag BaOmer at the tomb of the Rashbi (Shimon bar Yochai) in the northern Israeli city of Meron (SARA HERSHKOF/TPS)

Avraham Gold contributed to this report.

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