May 7, 2009

Jewish Bonfire Holiday
Jerusalem, Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Yet another Jewish holiday is nearly upon us, but this one is actually kind of neat. Lag BaOmer is a festive day that coincides with the ending of a "divine-sent plague" that wiped out some 24,000 Jews. Like most Jewish lore there's a bunch of back-story on this specific holiday, but bottom line is that kids get to burn stuff.

In Israel, Lag BaOmer is both a school holiday and an occasion to lawfully set ablaze bonfires inside city limits. A sure indicator that the day is drawing near is the Jewish youth running about, gathering up scraps of wood to burn, or the large(!) piles of wooden debris.

In the weeks leading up to the event children begin collecting wood boards, old doors, and anything made from wood that can burn. As the holiday approaches, building contractors employ extra night watchmen to make sure that wooden planks and scaffolding are not carried off by youngsters.

Nothing like getting kids to clean up the place—a fine holiday indeed. Now, all we need is the Vatican to create a few holy days where the youth pick up trash to get Latin America back into shape!

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