Throngs of Israelis celebrated Lag B’Omer with traditional bonfires throughout the country Wednesday night, with thousands visiting the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron in northern Israel.
Lag B’Omer, which is observed on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar and the 33rd day of the Omer — the seven-week period between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot — is the anniversary of the death of the rabbi, a prominent sage and mystic who lived in ancient Israel in the second century CE.
Fire and ambulance services were on standby Wednesday night to meet the increased risk of fires and injuries as a result of the revelries.
By early Wednesday evening more than 20 people in the Meron area were treated for various injuries.
Last year police estimated that 60,000 people attended the Lag B’Omer celebrations at Mount Meron. Magen David Adom paramedics provided treatment to 92 people who suffered minor injuries over the course of the previous all-night celebration in the Galilee.
Air pollution rates throughout Israel soared last year due to the bonfires, according to data from the Environmental Protection Ministry. The ministry’s air-quality monitoring stations recorded air pollution rates as much as ten times the normal average rate on a clear day.
In certain Jewish communities, it is customary to give 3-year-old boys their first haircut on Lag B’Omer. In the days leading up to Lag B’Omer, children can be seen scouring the streets, looking for any scraps of wood they can get their hands on for their bonfires.