Ethiopian youth revel at pre-bar and bat-mitzvah Lag B'Omer bonfire

Ethiopian youth revel at pre-bar and bat-mitzvah Lag B'Omer bonfire [1]

TZFAT, ISRAEL - Some 40 Ethiopian 12-year-old olim recently celebrated the fiery Lag B'Omer holiday with a festive bonfire held near the Tzahal Absorption Center in Tzfat in northern Israel, as part of their studies towards their upcoming group bar and bat-mitzvah.

Youth counselor Ya'akov Yasiyes, himself a veteran Ethiopian oleh now in his 40s, and a group of several other counselors on Wednesday afternoon led the busload of happy campers to a clearing just outside of the hilltop town for the event. There, after a raucous circle singalong to get their spirits up, they spread out into the nearby forest to forage for fallen tree branches for the fire, one of thousands to be lit across Israel to commemorate Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai, a first-century Talmudic sagetraditionally considered to be the author of the mystic Zohar guide to Kabbalah.

Yasiyes, who made Aliyah at age 16, and has worked with the center for 12 years, lauded the generous British donors who, through the UJIA, make the annual bar and bat-mitzvah  event possible. 

Yasiyes told The Jewish Agency for Israel that today's group experienced a totally different - and hopefully smoother - Aliyah process than what he went through.

"There's no comparison between their experiences and mine," he said. "It's totally different," he added, noting that even the pre-aliyah preparation in Ethiopia has undergone rethinking and revision over the decades. 

"When we were kids in the village in Ethiopia, we weren't familiar with the celebrations that accompany such a life-cycle event," he pointed out. "It's kind of a shame we were never taught about the joyful occasion," he admitted, with a wistful shrug.

"But, thank God, here in Israel, we're making up for all that," he added with a grin, while in the background, the children - some for the first time ever - toasted white and pink marshmallows over the bonfires' ashy remains.

 

 

Ethiopian Aliyah [2]Absorption Center [2]Lag B'Omer [2]Voices Aliyah [3]"There's no comparison between their experiences and mine," said an older Ethiopian counselorEthiopian youth revel at pre-bar a batmitzva - Lag Bomer bonfire ​ TEASER: Theres no comparison between their experiences and mine, said an older Ethiopian counselor  ALT: Its totally different, the madrich said, noting that even the pre-aliyah prEthiopian youth revel at pre-bar a batmitzva - Lag Bomer bonfire ​ TEASER: Theres no comparison between their experiences and mine, said an older Ethiopian counselor  ALT: Its totally different, the madrich said, noting that even the pre-aliyah prYoung Ethiopian girl at Tzfat merkaz klita (absorption center) plays alongside wall mural depicting village life in her birth country12-year-old Ethiopian youth from Tzfat merkaz klita (absorption center) and their counselor dance around a pre-Lag BOmer bonfire, celebrating both the holiday and their upcoming bar mitzvahs12-year-old Ethiopian youth from Tzfat merkaz klita (absorption center) and their counselor at pre-La"g B'Omer activities, celebrating both the holiday and their upcoming bar mitzvahs12-year-old Ethiopian youth from Tzfat merkaz klita (absorption center) gather tree branches for a pre-La"g BOmer bonfire, celebrating both the holiday and their upcoming bar mitzvahs12-year-old Ethiopian girls from Tzfat merkaz klita (absorption center), and their counselors gather tree branches for a pre-Lag BOmer bonfire, celebrating both the holiday and their upcoming bat mitzvahs12-year-old Ethiopian girl from Tzfat merkaz klita (absorption center), gathers tree branches for a pre-Lag BOmer bonfire, celebrating both the holiday and her upcoming bat mitzvah12-year-old Ethiopian youth from Tzfat merkaz klita (absorption center) and their counselor at pre-Lag BOmer activities, celebrating both the holiday and their upcoming bar mitzvahs12-year-old Ethiopian girl from Tzfat merkaz klita (absorption center), at a pre-Lag BOmer bonfire, celebrating both the holiday and her upcoming bat mitzvah12-year-old Ethiopian girl from Tzahal Absorption Center at a Lag BOmer bonfire, celebrating both the holiday and her upcoming bat mitzvah"It's totally different," the madrich said, noting that even the pre-Aliyah preparation in Ethiopia has undergone rethinking and revision over the decades. Aliyah
28 Apr 2013 / 18 Iyar 5773
28 Apr 2013 / 18 Iyar 5773 0
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Dave Bender Dave has worked for nearly two decades as a multimedia journalist online, in radio and television, in photography and in print