Rain and marshmallows – Israel ablaze for Lag B'Omer
Despite rain in North, a Qassam rocket in South, and general fear of violence, hundreds of thousands of Israelis throw oil on the fire. But don't worry – in the words of one dad from Tel Aviv: We're the cops, the security guards, and also here to enjoy ourselves
Smoke gets in their eyes: Hundreds of thousands of Israeli – mostly children and teens – spent Wednesday night around Lag B'Omer bonfires. Some parents accompanied their children to the bonfires.
"Tonight we're the cops, the security guards, the parents – and also here to enjoy ourselves," Tel Aviv resident Assaf Livneh told Ynet.
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Livneh said that he and his wife were more worried about their children in light of the recent wave of violent incidents. "I'm less worried about the bonfires and more worried about violence," he said, noting that when he was young there was no need for parents to join their children on Lag B'Omer.
Kids play at a bonfire. (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Ruthie, who came to the bonfire with her son Ran, said she enjoyed "spending time with the kids and eating a burnt potato." Unlike some of the other parents, she wasn't concerned about violence: "Today the most important thing is to close the windows at home. We learned that lesson, and we don't want to go from a bonfire here to a bonfire at home. Sparks can fly in, not to mention the smell."
Roasting marshmallows. (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
A young boy tends the fire. (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Some families weren't satisfied with sending parents along, and sent grandparents, as well. "This makes me think of days gone by, when I was young and celebrated Lag B'Omer. It makes me feel good," said Ami, who came to the bonfire with his daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters. "Other than that, I'm having fun with my granddaughters an the whole family, so what's not good?"
In the South, the holiday festivities were marred by a Qassam rocket that landed in a field in the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council. No one was wounded and no damage was reported.
Candles lit on Mount Meron (Photo: News 24)
Celebrations elsewhere in Israel resulted in some injuries. Four children were lightly injured at a bonfire in Beitar Illit when a can thrown on the fire exploded, and a 24-year-old man fell from a height of four meters at the traditional Lag B'Omer rites on Mt. Meron. He was evacuated by helicopter to Rambam Hospital in Haifa in moderate condition.
Fire meets fire: Lightning in northern Israel. (Photo: Noam Friedman)
In northern Israel, the light of the bonfires was answered by flashes of lightning that lit up the sky, but the light rain that fell didn't manage to douse the flames. "Big drops were falling. It lasted about 15 minutes," said Yuval Morgenstern from Hispin. "The rain didn't put the bonfire out. It didn't spoil the party, the bonfire was going all through the rain," he said.
As it got darker, the young children's fires were replaced by those of teens. "On one hand, they kind of got things ready, and sometimes they even leave us some drinks and potatoes," Tal (18) said.
"On the other hand, you can't start a fire where they've already put out a fire because the ground is wet, so there's not always a lot of space left."