Boro Park-An unprecedented turnout at Boro Park’s central Lag B’Omer event resulted in the unheard-of closing of three avenues to traffic so festive goers could participate. The large bonfire hosted by Niklesburg Beis Medrash and dancing under Grand Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis shlit”a have become a focal point of the day for the past 10 years, and this year’s event exceeded all expectations on many fronts.
The festivities began Wednesday night at the shul at 4912 16th Avenue with Maariv joined by an overflowing crowd. This followed by the public recital of Sefiras HaOmer, heard by those outside over the loudspeakers.
The Rebbe shlit”a first addressed the crowd, reminding them that they were about to experience the atmosphere of Meron as it is transported to New York and that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai himself was undoubtedly there to join them. After showering the spectators with brachos, the Rebbe shlit”a led those present in a heartwarming rendition of Ani Maamin and other classic tunes. He then personally oversaw the distribution of olive oil, which celebrants were invited one by one to pour over the pyre.
The moment of the hadlakah was watched closely by the assemblage and then everyone erupted into jubilant dancing to the live music. In addition to the professional band, this year’s performance featured a top guitarist and a trumpeter, both of whom flew in from Eretz Yisroel especially for the occasion.
Many notable rabbonim and other personalities made appearances. Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss shlit”a, a close friend of the Rebbe, delivered a brief message before the dancing began. Another special guest was Harav Deutsch shlit”a, Rav of Maaleh Adumim in Eretz Yisroel, who flew to New York expressly to take part in the Boro Park event. He spoke to the crowd during a break in the dancing and expressed his feelings at experiencing the joy of Meron here.
As always, one of the most outstanding features of the Niklesburg Lag B’Omer celebration was the incredible display of achdus that was shared by all present. Among the wide range of those who came were many who are closest to the Rebbe shlit”a‘s heart: boys who became estranged from Yiddishkeit, yet now they grabbed the opportunity to join their beloved Rebbe and pour oil on the bonfire that lit up the night and warmed all those who were there.
The extensive preparations became obvious early in the afternoon, as the Niklesburg Rebbe oversaw the purchase of hundreds of bottles of water and many tables laden with refreshments to accommodate the huge crowds. When schoolchildren on their way home approached the tables while they were being set up during the afternoon, the Rebbe told his organizers not to stop them from taking. He expressed his admiration for these children by saying, “I wish we could serve these precious boys treats every day as they head home from a day of learning in cheder” and then he rushed off to order yet more refreshments.
The celebration continued until 1 AM when the band played V’Amech Kulom Tzadikim, which the Rebbe shlit”a concluded with the words, “Mir zenen alle tzadikim-We are all tzadikim.” It was a most fitting closing that played tribute to the Rebbe’s openness to all. His warm brachos, distributed generously to all who were there, will surely accompany everyone and inspire them throughout the year.