Last night, the Kadoorie synagogue in the city of Oporto received hundreds of congregants who wanted to celebrate Lag Baomer around the bonfire that was lit outside the building. From the end of the afternoon, men, women and children began to arrive at the synagogue for a party that only ended close to midnight.
Ilan Cohen, whose family is originally from Djerba, has a very special affection for this emblematic day. "Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai passed away on Lag BaOmer, and the holiday commemorates the “day of his joy” as he instructed his disciples. It also commemorates the day when a plague that transpired during Rabbi Akiva’s lifetime ended."
Lag Baomer is observed on the 33rd day of the Omer, which is the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot. The Omer is a period of semi-mourning during which many activities, including weddings, chanting and dancing, and even haircuts, are prohibited. Lag BaOmer is the only day permitted by Jewish law for these activities. It has evolved into a minor holiday, with Jewish weddings, bonfires, and picnics.
In the meantime, in Israel, thousands of people were together around the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron, a pilgrimage site where 45 people died in a stampede in 2021. Many police officers, soldiers and stewards overseed the circulation of the pilgrims, most of them from strictly devout Haredi Jewish communities, who have come to celebrate the Jewish holiday at the burial site of the 2nd-century sage.