In the week before the festival, Yachad’s 32 facilitators led workshops, happenings and classes in 80 community centers across Israel. “Our facilitators introduced Israelis of all ages to their ancestors Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kochba through exciting interactive initiatives,” reports Yachad Program director Betzalel Safra. “They went into the kindergartens, met with teens and senior adults, held survival games, bow-and-arrow contests and baking on taboons,” he says.
“Our bonfire represented the culmination of a week’s worth of educational activity,” confirms Hod Hasharon’s facilitator, Mordechai Harel. “We had a massive blaze, grilled food and lots of singing. Suddenly there was a visitor: “Rabbi Akiva” himself came to regale the children with stories and funny vignettes from his life. As history came alive, the meaning of Lag B’Omer became much more real for everyone there.”
Ultimately, says Safra, Lag B’Omer exemplifies the Yachad message of sharing the Torah’s light. “On Lag B’Omer we mark the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who brought spiritual light into the world with the revelation of the Zohar, his Book of Radiance,” he remarks. “This is Yachad. This is our mission, to fan the spark in the hearts of each and every Jew, no matter what his or her background or age, and to build it into a flame strengthened by the values and traditions of our Jewish heritage.”