NEXTGen Redefines How We Celebrate Lag BaOmer

May 28, 2014 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

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Lag BaOmer used to be a little known Jewish Holiday. That is, until NEXTGen Detroit got their hands on it! Back in 2012, NEXTGen decided to redefine Lag BaOmer and lift it from its status as a minor Jewish holiday into a community-wide celebration: Lag BaOmer Blowout! The event was so successful in its first few years that other organizations, such as the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, have begun holding their own Lag BaOmer festivities.

NEXTGen Detroit hosted its third annual Lag BaOmer Blowout on Sunday, May 18th at the Friendship Circle. The event brought together young adults from throughout the community. With over 250 in attendance, this was our largest Lag BaOmer BlowOut ever.

What a perfect way to start off the summer! Music was flowing and delicious foods were being grilled as Rabbi Yisrael Pinson, Rabbi Leiby Burnham and community leader Gary Torgow led discussions on the meaning of the holiday. Guests enjoyed a barbeque dinner of hamburgers, hotdogs and other delicious dishes. including summer beverages and craft beers selected by the Lag BaOmer BlowOut chairs Julie Marx and Rabbi Yisrael Pinson, and Rabbi Leiby Burnham of Partners Detroit. As Josh Goldberg, a Lag BaOmer Blowout Committee member, described it, “A couple of years ago, we (the YAD Jewish Life Committee) were thinking of an idea for an event, and the minor Jewish holiday Lag BaOmer came up because celebrating it seemed enjoyable, worthwhile and doable. We were blown away by the response that year — at the event, the line was out-the-door, and we ended up with over 190 people, and the event’s grown each year since.  Because the holiday’s not widely celebrated, we kind of came out of nowhere throwing a huge young-adult Lag BaOmer event; it’s surely one of (if not *the*) biggest in the country, and it’s been said since that first year that we ‘put Lag BaOmer on the map’.”

Following dinner, guests gathered outside for a huge bonfire where they roasted s’mores, reunited with old friends and met new ones. Good vibes were definitely felt throughout the night. The BlowOut was the first of many amazing summer events from NEXTGen Detroit.

The Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer is celebrated on the 33rd day of the Omer count between Passover and Shavuot.  It commemorates Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who was the first Jewish thought leader to publicly teach the mystical dimension of the Torah known as Kabbalah. The holiday is typically celebrated with bonfires, outings and other fun events.

This event was a partnership between NEXTGen Detroit, Friendship Circle, Partners Detroit, and Chabad in the D, and was generously sponsored in part by Jeffery Warsaw.

Stay tuned for upcoming NEXTGen Detroit summer events! https://www.facebook.com/CommunityNEXT.

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