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Light Up the Night

C.B. Lieber

Have you ever built your own bonfire? For cheder boys in Eretz Yisrael, bonfires and Lag B’omer go hand-in-hand!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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H ave you ever built your own bonfire? For cheder boys in Eretz Yisrael, bonfires and Lag B’omer go hand-in-hand. For weeks before the big day, they’re busy combing the neighborhood for any scrap of wood they can possibly find, and come Lag B’omer, they’re out there building the biggest, best bonfire you’ve ever seen. Come along and join the fun! 


Haman, Potatoes, and All

Name: Yosef G.

Age: Almost 13

Neighborhood: Neve Yaakov, Yerushalayim

Years in the bonfire business: 6

Number of kids in group: 8-10

We start collecting wood for our fire… the day after Pesach. We only have half a day of school on Isru Chag, so that’s when we start collecting.

We go down to the forest around our neighborhood after school and gather fallen branches and sticks. We also look for old wooden beams, broken furniture, cardboard, and paper. We put it all in a secret hiding place, so no one takes it by mistake. Then, around two or three days before Lag B’omer, we start setting up the fire on an empty hill, in an area without any trees or buildings nearby.

When we’re ready to build it, we… first put up a middle beam, which is called the klotz. It’s the strongest and longest beam we have. We make a small hole in the ground, stick the klotz into it, fill up the hole, and make a small pile of rocks around it to hold it in place. Then we start putting the other beams on the sides so the klotz will stay up. We add whatever broken furniture we have, and then the cardboard and the paper, so it’ll catch fire easily.

Then we put a Haman doll at the top — we take an old shirt and pants, stuff them with dry leaves and straw, and pin them together. We add socks and a head made out of a shmatteh, with a face drawn on it. If we have an old hat, we add that, too. We connect it with safety pins and stick it up on a beam.

When we’re ready to light… we’re a group of five families, so one of the fathers of the group comes to light it, right after the first Maariv.

 

After it’s lit, we… throw potatoes into the fire and roast them. We sing Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai songs and watch the fire for about an hour till it burns out.

The most exciting part of the night for me is… watching the fire slowly going up, then watching the beams start breaking and falling down.

The craziest thing that ever happened to us was when… the city’s workers tried to take half our wood away. I was in a different group then, and we were planning to build our bonfire in an empty area near a school. The workers said it was too dangerous and they had to take our wood away. We managed to save some, though, and we built a big fire anyway.

If you’re planning to build your own bonfire, I would recommend… you get a big group, find a nice place, and reserve it by putting a circle of rocks around it. Also, find a secret place to hide your stuff so no one takes it by mistake. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 659)

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