Lag BaOmer 5776 – Live Updates From Meron

MERON -
The Toldos Avraham Yitzchak Rebbe with chassidim in Meron. (M. Bichler)
The Toldos Avraham Yitzchak Rebbe with chassidim in Meron. (M. Bichler)

As Klal Yisrael celebrates Lag BaOmer 5776, Hamodia will provide live updates from Meron throughout the festive night and day, including photographs and news updates, as well as traffic and parking information for any visitors who are joining the celebration at the kever of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai.

Refresh your page to obtain the latest updates.

Time stamps are Israeli time.

Thursday, 7:50 p.m.

Traffic continues to be a headache for those attempting to leave Meron, and for those who are still arriving, as the Lag BaOmer celebrations continue.

A police spokesman has announced that the Chatzor and Carmiel parking lots are full; drivers should not attempt to park there.

There are major traffic jams on Route 85, in both directions, throughout the area of Rosh Pina and Tzfas.

Thursday, 7:05 p.m.

Though Lag BaOmer is nearing its end in Eretz Yisrael, the festivities in Meron are still going strong.

The Toldos Avraham Yitzchak Rebbe arrived in Meron on Thursday evening. The Rebbe performed a hadlakah, and is now leading his chassidim in singing niggunim.

Thursday, 5:28 p.m.

Police have advised that the following highways are loaded and those who can, should use alternate routes.

On Rt. 70, north between Ein Tut to Yokneam Ilit, and from Somech to Avlayim and south from Yagur to Ha’amakim.

Rt. 85, to the east, between Har Gilon and Karmiel.

Rt. 722, to the north, between Kfar Yehoshua and Hashomrim.

Rt. 89, both directions between Chiram and Elipelet.

Rt. 866, between Chananyah and Ein Zeitim; between Dalton and Ein Zeitim.

Rt. 8900, between Biriyah and Ein Zeitim.

Thursday, 4:49 p.m.

Ultra orthodox Jewish men wait to board buses to Mount Meron in Northern Israel, to take part in celebrations of the Jewish holiday of Lag Baomer. Lag Baomer commemorates the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the most important sages in Jewish history, 1800 years ago. May 26, 2016. Photo by Zack Wajsgras/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ל"ג בעומר לג בעומר חגיגה חסידים חרדים חג הילולת לג בעומר במירון קבר רבי שמעון בר יוחאי חוגגים הר מרון הר מירון מחכים אוטובוס תחנה ירושלים
Waiting in Yerushalayim to board the bus to Meron on Thursday afternoon. (Zack Wajsgras/Flash90)

Tens of thousands have continued to arrive in Meron throughout the afternoon for the last few hours of Lag BaOmer. Hots gepoilt alles gut!

Thursday, 3:52 p.m.

Police have advised that the Karmiel parking lot is full and there is no parking available there. The police request that the public travel in public transportation to Meron.

Thursday, 2:37 p.m.

The chalakah boy having his first haircut at Meron. (Chadashot24)
The chalakah boy having his first haircut at Meron. (Chadashot24)

As every year, many three-year-old boys travel to Meron to receive their first haircut there.

The tent for the haircuts. (Chadashot24)
Ohel Hachalakah: the tent for the haircuts. (Chadashot24)

An additional feature this year in Meron is the Heichal HaTorah, dedicated to learning Torah. Over ten thousand people have been in that special tent, utilizing some of their time in Meron for limmud haTorah.

Learning in the Heichal HaTorah in Meron. (Chadashot24)
Learning in the Heichal HaTorah in Meron. (Chadashot24)

Thursday, 1:33 p.m.

The endless wait for the bus to Meron in Bnei Brak.
The endless wait for the bus to Meron in Bnei Brak.
Waiting for buses on Bnei Brak's Rechov Chazon Ish.
Waiting for buses on Bnei Brak’s Rechov Chazon Ish.

Hundreds are waiting in the Bnei Brak busstops for buses to Meron, Thursday afternoon.

The private bus companies are not managing to keep up with the huge demands, and there is a backlog of several hours.

Thursday, 1:12 p.m.

Yehiel Gorfein /ichud Hatzalah
Rabbi Azoluay (C) receives an update from the heads of Ichud Hatzalah in Meron. (Yechiel Gorfein/Ichud Hatzalah)

Minister of Religious Affairs Rabbi David Azoulay (Shas) visited the Ichud Hatzalah command room in Meron, Thursday afternoon, and was briefed on the organization’s operations over Lag BaOmer.

Thus far, the day has been with no major problems, b’chasdei Shamayim.

Yehiel Gorfein/Ichud Hatzalah
Rabbi Azoulay in the Ichud Hatzalah command room in Meron. (Yechiel Gorfein/Ichud Hatzalah)

Minister Rabbi Azoulay was accompanied by Rabbi Yossi Schwinger, CEO of the foundation on behalf of the holy sites.

Thursday, 11:48 a.m.

Many booths lined the way up the mountain in Meron, en route to the kever. (ABB)
Many booths lined the way up the mountain in Meron, en route to the kever. (ABB)

Thursday, 11:01 a.m.

he Jewish holiday of Lag Baomer on Mt. Meron in northern Israel. Lag Baomer commemorates the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the most important sages in Jewish history, 1800 years ago. May 26, 2016. Photo by Moshe Azriel/Flash90 ***
Shooting a bow and arrow in Meron, Thursday morning. (Moshe Azriel/Flash90)
Shooting a bow and arrow in Meron, Thursday morning. (Moshe Azriel/Flash90)
A boy aims his arrow at the yetzer hara, in Meron, Thursday morning. (Moshe Azriel/Flash90)

Tens of thousands more are making their way to Meron. Police estimates say that as of early Thursday, over 100,000 people have arrived in Meron since Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday, 10:08 a.m.

The simchah in Meron continues into the morning, with dancing in the courtyard after Shacharis.

Spirited dancing in Meron.
Spirited dancing in Meron, Thursday morning.
Dancing Thursday morning.
Dancing Thursday morning.
The minhag of shooting a bow and arrow on Lag BaOmer. (ABB)
The minhag of shooting a bow and arrow on Lag BaOmer. (ABB)

Thursday, 8:44 a.m.

The biggest mass event in Israel – Lag BaOmer at Kever Rashbi – has thus far, baruch Hashem, been with no major problems, if with a few glitches. Rescue workers for Magen David Adom and Ichud Hatzalah said that about 300 people needed treatment for variety of falls, injuries, burns and other issues. The majority were treated at first-aid stations and released. Several dozen were taken to hospitals in the region for further treatment. MDA treated 150 people and Ichud Hatzalah 170.

Zaka also played an important role at Meron – helping lost children to find their parents. Zaka volunteers were able to reunite 70 lost children with their families. Zaka said that this number was significantly lower than in previous years, thanks to identification bracelets that were distributed to children at the entrance to the Kever Rashbi area.

ZAKA volunteers tag children to make sure they will not be lost. (ZAKA)
Zaka volunteers tag children to make sure they will not be lost. (Zaka)

With the long night behind them, many families were set to be heading home on Thursday morning and afternoon – and rescue services were now turning their attention to the dangers inherent in driving after a long night of celebration. Zev Kashash, chairman of Ichud Hatzalah, called on drivers not to take to the road if they felt tired. “Unfortunately, in past years we have been witness to terrible accidents that were caused by driving when too tired, with drivers losing their concentration or even falling asleep. For visitors who must drive, they must rest often and ensure that they remain alert.”

While many will leave on Thursday, many others will remain in the area until after Shabbos, and as far as Ichud Hatzalah is concerned, the “security operation” it is running at Meron will not end until then, said organization chairman Moshe Teitelbaum. “I want to thank the hundreds of doctors and first aid workers who volunteered to protect visitors and provide them with care and treatment. We will remain on duty until Motzoei Shabbos to provide assistance to the thousand who will remain in Meron.”

(Medabrim Takshoret)
The tefillos inside the Mearah. (Medabrim Tikshoret)

Thursday, 3:34 a.m.

All previously closed parking lots have now been reopened, traffic on all roads are flowing smoothly.

Thursday, 1:26 a.m.

The simchah in Meron is indescribable. For this one day, a sizable percentage of Jews in Israel converges on this small village in the Galil.

Elderly Yerushalmi Yidden are dancing in the center of dozens of circles, young men are somersaulting and sons who just received their first chalakah (haircut) are perched atop their father’s heads. A variety of music blasted through massive loudspeakers in various: chassidishe nigunim in one spot; Israeli music in another, and ancient Sephardic niggunim in yet another. Lag BaOmer in Meron brings together Jews of all stripes, dancing and celebrating in harmony.

A boy about to receive his first haircut, dancing on his father's shoulders among the crowd in Meron. ((Elishama Sandman/Ohr HaRashbi))
A boy about to receive his first haircut, dancing on his father’s shoulders among the crowd in Meron. ((Elishama Sandman/Ohr HaRashbi))

Wednesday, 9:47 p.m.

Magen David Adom spokesman Zaki Heller says that 90 people have been treated in Meron, for minor injuries such as bruising, fainting and dehydration.

(Elishama Sandman/Ohr HaRashbi)
(Elishama Sandman/Ohr HaRashbi)

9:44 p.m.

Both the Carmiel and Chatzor parking lots are full. Drivers should not come to those lots.

The Boyaner Rebbe 9Elishama Sandman/Ohr HaRashbi)
The Boyaner Rebbe (Elishama Sandman/Ohr HaRashbi)

9:30 p.m.

Highway 8900 from Rosh Pina to Tzfas is closed to traffic; only residents of Tzfas are permitted to use that highway.

The Alifelet junction is closed towards Tzfas and Miron.

9:08 p.m.

United Hatzolah has treated 37 patients, all for light injuries and dehydration.

Health Minister Rabbi Litzman touring the emergency services HQ Wedmnesday. (Avrohom Tzeman, Ichud Hatzolah)
Health Minister Rabbi Litzman touring the emergency services HQ Wedmnesday. (Avrohom Tzeman, Ichud Hatzolah)

8:55 p.m.

The main hadlakah, lit by the Boyaner Rebbe, begins the festivities.

(Medabrim Takshoret)
(Medabrim Takshoret)

8:52 p.m.

Enormous crowds are gathering in Meron, around the kever of the sainted Rabi Shimon bar Yochai. Four hundred thousand people are expected to attend the festivities.