My reason for going to Meron was first and foremost because I really wanted to daven there. I also knew that Meron is really the only place in the world where you really feel like it’s Lag B’omer. In America you certainly don’t feel it. Even in the rest of Israel, you may see kids standing around a bonfire and it’s a holiday, but Lag b’omer really happens in Meron.
In my seminary, they actually made arrangements for whoever wanted to go. About 30 girls went in the end along with a few teachers, but we were mostly on our own. We took public buses and the school just had a rule that we had to be back in Jerusalem by a specific time. Some girls made arrangements to stay in Tzfat and those girls had to have their plans confirmed with the seminary to get special permission.
The bus ride there was beyond packed. Some girls had to stand the entire way to Meron. People where on every surface of the bus, sitting on each other’s laps and on the floor of the bus, wedged into tight corners. Getting off the bus was like leaving the mundane world behind and entering a crazy caricature of Gan Eden. There were seas of people and everyone was happy. Everyone was dancing. There were people everywhere playing instruments, singing and jumping around. I walked over to a sink, the kind of long metal rectangle sink that usually has washing cups in the bottom so a bunch of people can wash for bread quickly. When I turned on the tap, instead of water coming out, Tepel came out instead. (Tepel is a sugary and colored drink. Think kool aid). People sponsor food and drinks, so there were people handing out potato kugel. I have to say, it was a little hard to find water, though.
Me and three friends decided to go daven first. We got as close to the kever as we could which was not actually that close. When I entered the kever it was like once again leaving one world behind and stepping into another. The party receded and the music became muffled white noise in the background. People were weeping and davening and pouring their hearts out. I had the tangible feeling of knowing that when I was praying, G-d was listening to me. That’s the only way I can describe it. The atmosphere was almost spooky. In retrospect I couldn’t believe how intensely I was able to concentrate on my own tefillah in such a crazy place. I prayed for my sister and brother who were both single (my sister had recently been through a painful divorce) to find their match. Which they did that year.
Walking away from the kever is kind of jarring, because you leave that intense place of prayer and twenty steps out, you are in the middle of a huge celebration. But after we adjusted, we just walked around which was not so simple because of all the people. I never saw such a big fire in my entire life and probably never will again unless I go to back to Meron. We just wandered around, soaking in the atmosphere. It was for sure one of the best experiences of my life.
Getting home was insane. We weren’t mean enough or strong enough to get on a bus, so it took a while. I guess we had davened really hard, because after getting shoved around for about a half hour, we managed to get on a bus. What I remember most about that particular experience was thinking; Wow, I think we almost got killed in the mob. And for some reason I wasn’t upset about any of it, because it was all so crazy in a really good way.