Sam Mesguich, Rosh Jinuj Hanoar Hatzioni B’Bélgica
Lag Baomer is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th of Iyar, the 33rd day of the Omer, a
calendar separating Pessah from Shavuot. There are different ways of celebrating it. The
important aspect of this holiday is that it should mark a separating point between the
period of semi-mourning due to the plague that killed Rabbi Akiva’s students, and the
“hillula” of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, source of great happiness and celebration amongst
Jewish communities around the world. Our tnua in Belgium celebrates Lag Baomer in a
very specific and original way. Indeed, instead of the traditional bonfire symbolising the
enlightenment of Bar Yohai’s teachings, a huge outdoor sports tournament opposing
Belgium’s five Jewish youth movements is organised, as a way of strengthening our bond
to nature and bring us together as Belgium’s Jewish youth.
During the whole day, the different shirfot of every movement will challenge themselves
in various disciplines which range from Creeks (a game involving two teams using a ball
to eliminate each other) to running and intellectual quizzes, among others.
Although the spirit of competition amongst the movements is quite unique and
challenging, there is an authentic atmosphere of community that can be felt throughout
the day. This competition is a real chance for Belgium’s five Jewish youth movements
with different ideologies, points of view, and educational aims, to gather as a whole and to
celebrate our strong link to Judaism together, regardless of these ideological differences.
The strength of Lag Baomer as we celebrate it stands in our sense of unity in a period
during which European Jewish communities sometimes face difficulties.