Zoe Goldstein-McKay, Section 3 chanicha; Medford, NJ
There are many Jewish holidays. They involve huge meals (I’m talking at least six courses), lots of praying, and personal reflection. I’ve celebrated them all in the States and thought I knew my favorites; however, I am fortunate to be in Israel where there are a multitude of Israeli holidays which have no connection to Jews outside of Israel. One of them is Lag B’omer, a holiday that includes bonfires, meat, and a nice story.
Lag B’omer is about celebrating a Jewish figure named Bar Kokhba who very long ago started a revolt against Augustus (Caesar at the time) and managed to capture Jerusalem and Israel for about three years before he was defeated and disappeared. But let’s not dwell on what he did wrong. He created a Jewish state single-handedly and Jews finally had access to the Holy City for the first time in years. So it’s a celebration of heroism and of true self-sacrifice for the greater good.
Of course, no Jewish holiday would be complete without food, and this one is no exception. Year Course provided quite a picnic spread: hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken kababs, salad, potatoes, rice, fruit and lethal amounts of hummus. We were on top of a hill in Jerusalem at night time overlooking the valleys below and under the stars above. There was a roaring bonfire (fear not, there were marshmallows) and two men playing the drums. I mean real drums. Not those pathetic school band drums, but proper authentic ones. There was dancing and all around merrymaking. Everyone had come out for the party (including the mosquitoes) and there was a festive air about us. On our way back to the hostel we passed at least 20 bonfires on our short seven minute drive. Secular and religious Israelis sitting side by side celebrating the unique determination we Jews are known for. So overall it was another successful Year Course event. Chalk it up to the food and company.
- Inside Israel