Lag Ba’Omer, Not in Meron

What are you doing tonight?

lag ba'omerWe’re going upstate, near Monsey, to some friends who live in the woods. We are making a bonfire, of course. We’ll be making a bonfire, singing songs — probably less of the traditional “Bar Yochai” variety and more They Might Be Giants and “Punk Rock Girl” — but it will all have the same effect. None of us have been to a concert in at least 32 days — as of sunset tonight, 33 days — and our dancing shoes are twitching.

Then we’ll be doing the traditional Lag Ba’Omer things, cutting our hair and eating grilled food — notably, grilled pineapple, since my wife is Australian and a carnivore and, apparently, eating pineapple on hamburgers and pizza is what Australians do. Not as wacky as corn or squid, but hey, we can’t all be Japanese.

We won’t be in Meron. This year, MJL published my poem Bar Yochai (Ai Yai Yai), which has been bringing back some serious memories of the largest Lag Ba’Omer I’ve ever been a part of — upwards of 800,000 people all crammed into a tiny tourist town. We actually went up there for the day and left at twilight, as soon as it officially turned Lag Ba’Omer. But buses were running like nightmares, and ours drove an hour north and then turned around and went an hour back south, and we showed up in Meron in the middle of an all-out party. My favorite memory of the night is when I tried to leave the bus, and all these screaming Haredi grandmothers were trying to push past me and get on the bus. I screamed at them in my bad Hebrew, “Stop pushing me! I’m shomer negiah!” It didn’t work, but it got a laugh.

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