The Chabad Center for Jewish Life, which services the Jewish community of Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh and surrounding communities, hosted its annual Lag B’Omer festivities on May 9, a joyous holiday celebrated with outings, bonfires and more.
As explained in an email from the Chabad Center, the holiday celebrates the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai,. Rabbi Bar Yochai is believed to be buried in Meron, Israel and many make a pilgrimage to visit his resting place on the holiday.
“Lag B’Omer is one of the most enjoyable Jewish celebrations,” Chabad Director Rabbi Shimon Kramer said. “It actually commemorates the passing of a great Jewish leader, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, but is celebrated in a positive, upbeat way, as Rabbi Shimon willed it.”
On the day of his death, it is believed that Rabbi Bar Yochai instructed his disciples to mark the date as “the day of my joy.” Each year, his life is celebrated — as well as the revelation of esoteric soul of the Torah — an inspiration to Jewish people today.
The holiday also commemorates the ending of a plague that killed thousands of disciples of another Jewish leader, Rabbi Akiva be Yosef, because “they did not act respectfully towards each other,” according to the Chabad Center.
On Lag B’Omer, the plague ended, and today, the holiday carries the theme of “Ahavat Yisrael,” which means the imperative love and respect to one’s fellow.
At the Chabad’s Merrick location at 2174 Hewlett Ave., there were plenty of opportunities for kids to learn about the holiday and have fun. Along with a show featuring Magic Jeff, a magician who combines comedy and non-stop entertainment in his demonstrations, there was also a Kosher barbecue dinner, fun Jewish crafts, sports with Super Soccer Stars, and s’mores and stories around a fire pit.