Photo Credit: Basel Awidat / Flash 90
Jews seen near a bonfire lit as part of the celebrations of the Jewish holiday of Lag B'Omer, in Meron. The most well-known custom of Lag B'Omer is the lighting of bonfires throughout Israel and in Jewish communities worldwide. May 02, 2018.

Israeli public officials involved in the preparations for this year’s Lag B’Omer celebrations in the northern Israeli Galilee town of Meron are warning people who plan to attend to be prepared for intense heat.

People are being warned to bring extra liquids with them, to prevent dehydration.

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Weather forecasters are expecting a heat wave to start in the region beginning Tuesday, and to increase each day until temperatures reach extreme highs on Thursday, Lag B’Omer.

The holiday, which begins Wednesday night, falls on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer – the days between Passover and Shavuot — and marks the day which brought to an end a terrible plague responsible for the deaths of 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to rush up to Mount Meron (elevation: 3,624 feet) for the celebration, where bonfires will burn nonstop from the start of the evening straight through for a 25-hour period until Thursday night.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived in the second century CE, was the first to publicly teach Kabbalah. He authored the Zohar, the most fundamental Kabbalistic work. The anniversary of his passing is on 18 Iyar — Lag B’Omer – and is also celebrated because he instructed his disciples to commemorate the date as “the day of my joy.”

The bonfires are a reference to the fiery spirit of the mystical teachings that are celebrated on this day.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.