i will never have another lag baomer like the one i had in Israel.
when i was in elementary school, lab baomer meant we would take a trip to a state park, in rain or shine (somehow it was always raining) and i always forgot my lunch at home and had to end up eating the soggy pears and unflavored, unsweetened applesauce that was provided for the kids that ate school lunch. once we got the parks we usually ended up having races or paper clips hunts-yes, they really thought we would get down on our hands and knees and look for little colored pieces of metal among the mud and goose poop of bear mountain state park. after sixth grade we refused to take part in these kind of things, and usually all sat around listening to our Walkmans (we thought we were cool because we listened to hamsa boys) in eighth grade the entire eighth grade (125 girls) collectively, found one paper clip. we really didn't care.
in high school, it wasn't much better. in ninth grade our school had a bonfire in the backyard. all the girls from sternberg went crazy, putting dirt on their faces, leaping around the fire whooping their heads off. i thought they were crazy. our principal took us to some park, where all we wanted to do was tan in the sun and listen to music-by then it was on our ipods. and if i remember correctly, this was when my friends were going through the Yankee-craze phase, so under the guise of old Walkmans, they listened to the games.
our neighborhood had a bonfire every year in a park, but i stopped going a couple of years back, because the thought of standing in the the drizzly cold to roast a couple of marshmallows when i could easily do it over a stove, just didn't appeal to me.
but nothing surpasses lag baomer in meron. we all piled onto a bus and traveled for hours, my Israeli madricha told us stories and taught us all the words to 'bar yochai'-did you know that it's like pages and pages long? i have a friend who still remembers all the words. it was hot and stuffy, but nothing would prepare us for when we got off the bus. we joined the throngs of people walking up the hills towards the kever. it took us about an hour from when we got off the bus, to the doorway of the kever. and another twenty minutes to get inside.
there were people everywhere, from all different walks of life. selling posters, bumper stickers, pins, hats, t-shirts, that sported breslov sayings, as well as the little smiley with the peyot and kippah, in addition to pictures of the rebbe. there were old men, young boys, sheep, and goats. little boys just getting their haircuts, groups of irreligious israeli teenagers wearing little plastic kippot and four inch skirts over their jeans. there were people walking around giving out free water bottles, and EMTs running back and forth with stretchers filled with fainting women. the line for the bathroom was longer than the line to get gas in new jersey, and there was an over abundance of air freshener and no toilet paper. everyone was pushing and shoving, screaming names, and yelling at each other.
one old lady really lost it. she was screaming at us, cursing us out. my friend looked her calmly in the eye, and then yelled back "gam ani ben adam! eifoh hakavod habriyot shelach?"
once we got to the entrance, the guard wasn't letting anyone in because it was too full. he said we would have to wait for people to come out. but man, there were some holy people in there, because they sure weren't coming out. so we asked him very calmly and quietly, to pretty please, let us in. and he did. he moved from the door, and told his friend to let us come in.
boy, if we thought it was hot outside, it was sweltering inside! but at least we got to go inside. we didn't get anywhere near the actual kever of course, no way was i going to wriggle myself between millions of sweaty people.
trying to get back to the bus was an experience in itself. we were going against the tide. one of my friends who is really short stopped walking for a second, and was swept backwards. it was really scary, how close she came to being trampled.