Current Events Trivia: Lag B’Omer bonfire in London


Lag b’Omer celebrants lit traditional bonfires despite warnings by the fire department citing temperatures in the 90s and dryness. (Ben Sales)


Lag B’Omer was celebrated earlier this month in Jewish communities around the world. Many synagogues hosted picnics and bonfires to mark the joyous holiday that falls on the 33rd day of the otherwise mournful 49-day Omer period between Passover and Shavuot.

What took place at the Lag B’Omer celebration at Beis Medrash Beis Shmuel, a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) congregation in London’s heavily Jewish Golders Green neighborhood, which led to much criticism?

  1. A Lag B’Omer custom is ushperin, when three-year-old boys receive their first haircut. The synagogue provided haircuts for their children at a seat underneath a photoshopped picture of King Charles without any hair. A picture posted on Instagram by one of the families went viral, leading to angry comments online.
  2. Lag B’Omer is the one day during the 49-day omer period when weddings can take place. The synagogue held 12 weddings that day with hundreds of celebrants dancing the hora in the main avenue in front of the synagogue. The synagogue did not have a permit to shut down the street, so the wedding guests greatly disrupted pedestrian and street traffic until London police arrived and had the guests bring the celebration back inside.
  3. Because the holiday took place two days after the coronation of King Charles, the Rabbi wore a crown on his head instead of a yarmulke, and the children, following a tradition of playing with toy bows and arrows, shot rubber-tipped arrows at him. Video shared on social media elicited a firestorm of criticism from supporters of the Royal Family.
  4. One of the rabbis lit a bonfire in the synagogue parking lot without getting approval from the London Fire Brigade.
  5. One of the rabbis lit a bonfire inside the synagogue, much to the disapproval of the London Fire Brigade.

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