Lag B’Omer festival-Israel
#GS2 International Relations
- At least 44 people were crushed to death in a stampede early Friday as tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered in northern Israel to celebrate the annual Lag B’Omer festival.
- Over 150 people have also been injured in the stampede, with several in critical condition. The incident is widely being described as one of the country’s deadliest civilian disasters.
Lag B’Omer festival- About the festival
- Lag B’Omer is an annual Jewish festival observed during the Hebrew month of Iyar.
- It is celebrated on the 33rd day of the Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot. Lag B’Omer is the only day during the 49-day period when the celebration is permitted.
- Hence, it is common for Jews to schedule weddings on this day every year. Young boys, who have reached the age of three, are also traditionally brought here for their first haircut.
- To mark the occasion, tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish pilgrims make their way to the base of Mount Meron every year, to pay their respects to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century sage and mystic, who is believed to have died on this day. The Rabbi’s tomb is a much revered holy site in Israel.
- This year, devotees were permitted to visit the tomb after Israel managed to successfully carry out a nationwide vaccination programme and lift several restrictions. However, authorities still advised against visiting the site in large numbers to prevent another Covid outbreak.
- Rabbi Shimon was said to have been a gifted Talmudic scholar and a disciple of Rabbi Akiva, one of the greatest Jewish sages of all time. According to some accounts, Rabbi Shimon authored the ‘Zohar’, which is the main work of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism.
- Jews believe that on the day of his death, Rabbi Shimon told his disciples the many secrets of the Kabbalah, which some believe is how Lag B’Omer became a day of celebration. Bonfires are often lit on the day to represent the knowledge and wisdom he shared with his followers.
- Others believe that a deadly plague that killed 244,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s followers ended on this day. Rabbi Shimon was said to have been among the few people who survived.
a mountain in the Upper Galilee region of Israel. It has special significance in Jewish religious tradition and parts of it have been declared a nature reserve.
The village of Meron and the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai are on Mount Meron. Leading up to the anniversary of his death on Lag BaOmer, thousands of people camp out along the slopes near the tomb, and on Lag B'Omer itself, hundreds of thousands make pilgrimages to celebrate the occasion.