Lag Baomer “Camp Fire” Stories:
It was 1995, and it was our first Lag in Israel as Olim. The kids down the block had a massive fire going, built from construction wood. The flames were at least two stories high, and they were about 10 meters from our apartment – at most! Being a newbie, I called the fire department. The conversation was almost laughable, if it wasn’t so sad. The gist of their reasoning for not coming out to check the fire was that I was an Oleh and I didn’t know how “things were done here”.
It was 1997, we were driving back from my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, which was held in a Kibbutz up north. Motzash”k was Lag Baomer, just like this year. We drove back from the north down the coastal highway (Highway 6 “Kvish Shesh” wasn’t invented yet).
As we approached Hadera, we saw a massive fire in the city. It looked like it was several stories tall. I commented to my wife how “frum” the folks in Hadera are to be having such a big bonfire. About 5 minutes later, as we came nearer to the fire, we could see that it was indeed not a bonfire, but an apartment building up in flames. Adjacent to the building was a much smaller fire, presumably the bonfire that got things started.
BTW: Last year, I saw the fire department out in force and checking bonfires everywhere in the Ramah, including one that a neighbor had called in to the moked (106). So, there has been progress over the years. But, we must be diligent about safety.
The moral of the story is, (as the Sargent from Hill Street Blues would say) “Hey, let’s be careful out there…”