Last night and today religious Jews celebrated Lag B’Omer, a day of happiness commemorating both the temporary cessation of the plague that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students and the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Bonfires are traditionally lit the night of Lag B’Omer to commemorate the mystical light brought into the world with Rabbi Shimon’s teachings, especially the day he died, when he revealed the wisdom of the Zohar, the foundation of Kabbalah, to his students.
The largest Lag B’Omer celebration takes place in and around the city of Meron in Northern Israel where Rabbi Shimon’s tomb is located. Tens of thousands attend the celebration which includes around the clock singing and dancing.
Religious parents who do not cut their son’s hair until the age of three, often give their son his first haircut on Lag B’Omer in Meron.
Here are the two videos showing the festivities:
The first one is a short video of a bonfire in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.
The next one is a a video of the Lag B’Omer celebration in Meron, courtesy of YouTube. It’s poor quality, but gives an idea of what goes on there.