Beyond the Fire: A Look at Boro Park’s Growing Lag Ba’omer Tradition
These days, the Lag Ba’Omer medurah—where Yidden gather to sing and dance and celebrate the Hillula of the holy Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai around the fire—is a common feature in Boro Park. It seems, every few blocks has a street blocked off for a large fire in the center, where chassidim v’anshei ma’aseh dance with fervor, connecting with the great, holy legacy.
But while it may seem like this tradition has been with us forever, the first fires began no more than forty years ago—and they were few and far in between until very recently.
The first known hadlakah was in Stoliner shul, beginning in the 1980’s, when the Yerushalayimer Yidden who found themselves here brought the spirit of Meron to the streets of Boro Park, and the dancing would go on all night. The Boyaner chassidim have a special connection to Meron, since it has been a long-held tradition for the Admorim of Ruzin and Boyan to light the main hadlakah atop the tziyun. In recent years, Rav Binyomin Eisenberger has been hosting a beautiful hadlakah, and many others have gravitated to this tradition.
Today, there are thirty fires around Boro Park—and understandably, it is a monumental logistical undertaking.
Community Board-12’s Barry Spitzer—who has been involved in the month-long coordination efforts for years—spoke with Boropark24.com having just come from a meeting with the Chief of Brooklyn Borough Command of the FDNY.
“We were gratified to hear that the Fire Department, with whom we have an excellent relationship, will be allocating more resources, and bringing in more personnel, in anticipation of the events. Based on the map of where the events take place—each of which must acquire a permit well in advance—the fire department determines where to stage their trucks, so they can be close by.”
“The street closures also greatly impact traffic patterns around Boro Park, and so we must coordinate with Hatzolah and other first responders, informing them which streets will be closed… so they don’t, chas v’shalom, lose precious minutes going down the wrong street.”
CB-12 submits the contact information for each site, and they stand in contact with every coordinator of a fire, to ensure that it is done with utmost attention to safety. They also coordinate with the Sanitation Department which brings in a sweeper at every site following the fire.
Boro Park Shomrim (BSSP) will be assisting at most sites, ensuring a safe, smooth, and joyous operation all around Boro Park.
“Outside of Meron, the most beautiful Lag Ba’omer celebration is in Boro Park, I believe,” says Mr. Spitzer. “It makes the tremendous effort well worth it, and we continue to hope that the residents of Boro Park will continue to make a Kiddush Hashem, while following safety protocols—and, most importantly, to poyel yeshu’os in the zechus of Rabi Shimon.”
Beyond the…” goes behind the scenes of the sights, sounds and personalities of our Boro Park Shtetl, a special project of Boropark24.com. Comments or suggestions may be emailed to [email protected]
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