Last week, hundreds of Jewish communities across the FSU region ran fun Lag BaOmer activities for their youngest members along with their parents and grandparents, youth and students alike.
The activities included bonfires, parades, outdoor sports and recreation, musical and circus performances and were attended by tens of thousands of people.
Lag BaOmer is celebrated in Jewish tradition as a break that comes after a month-full mourning period and also a commemoration of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a great Torah scholar at the time of the Second Temple. It is traditionally welcomed with music and dances, bonfires and sports competitions. Gradually it has also become a day of Jewish pride and unity, with Jews who parade through the streets of their hometowns, promoting traditional Jewish values of charity, mutual respect and tikun olam. The FSU communities have become continuously involved in the celebrations in the last decades.
“Across the Jewish world Lag BaOmer brings Jewish pride and identity to the forefront, through public gatherings and parades. There is a special significance when these events take place in the former Soviet Union, where not so long ago Jews were ashamed and scared to be known as Jews, and now, after 25 years of FJC activity, the revival of Jewish life in the FSU is evident through these colorful, widely-attended activities, proving that Am Yisrael Chai,” said Mr. Daniel Gordon, FJC outreach coordinator.
From Riga, Estonia to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in Siberia, Russia and small towns in Ukraine, Lag BaOmer events were warmly welcomed by community members, many of whom came with their entire families to spend the day and enjoyed the finally warm weather. “We show that our pride has no fear, outside in the streets and not just in our homes,” said Rabbi Osher Krichevsky from Omsk, Siberia.