The evening of Lag B’Omer 5780 — also known as May 11 — was windy and unseasonably cold. Not exactly ideal conditions to celebrate the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, a brief oasis set aside during an otherwise subdued period.
On Lag B’Omer, certain activities that are barred during the counting of the Omer, like haircuts, weddings, music and dancing, are allowed for the day. There are also the bonfires.
It’s traditional practice to light a bonfire on Lag B’Omer, though it’s not exactly clear why. The most commonly cited reasons for the bonfires center on Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and the ways in which his presence was a light unto the world, or the way in which his accomplishments in learning and teaching provided the world with light, and other variations on that theme. In Meron, Israel, the site of the rabbi’s grave, hundreds of thousands typically gather to light bonfires.
Gathering in such numbers was not in the cards this year. Still, in the Greater Philadelphia area, those who wished to approximate a typical celebration did the best they could, lighting bonfires in their backyards. Here are a few of them.
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