This weekend commemorated the “shloshim” thirty days since the largest tragedy etc and Israel365 sponsored the official event commemorating the loss of life at the Western Wall.
45 people were tragically killed in the crowd rush disaster at Mount Meron, the worst civilian disaster in Israel’s history. An additional 102 were wounded in the stampede.
The tragedy took place on April 30 on the holiday of Lag Ba’omer when over 100,000 people were gathered at the burial site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron. The event has always been one of the most challenging for police and emergency and an estimated 5,000 policemen were deployed.
When tragedy struck, the supporters of Israel365 jumped to help.
“Over the past month, Israel365 immediately distributed $100,000 from the funds we raised directly into the bank accounts of needy families in Israel,” Rabbi Tuly Weisz, the head of Israel 365 said. “No one else mobilized as quickly as we did and I am not only proud of our effectiveness but grateful for the trust and support of hundreds of Christians and Jews who demonstrated great compassion for these perfect strangers.”
To mark the event, about 100 members of the families of the victims gathered at the Western Wall to say kaddish, a prayer that praises God which is traditionally recited by those in mourning.
A ceremony dedicated a magnificent Torah scroll dedicated to the victims. As a Torah scroll must be written by hand by a God-fearing scribe, the project was begun, with the first three lines being written by members of the families. The first letter was written by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the most respected rabbis of this generation.
Another tradition, the lighting of memorial candles, was also performed that evening at the Western Wall.
In Judaism, mourning is marked by set time periods, with an initial seven days of mourning, followed by the 30the day after burial, and finally, a one-year period of mourning for immediate relatives. When mourning all relatives except one’s parents, the mourning period concludes following the morning service of the 30th day (Shloshim). Traditionally, families gather on the eve of the Shloshim to share support, recite prayers and Psalms, and to give charity in the merit of the deceased.
An essential part of the shloshim is a meal coupled with a milestone in Torah learning. Dedicated to the memory of the deceased, it helps to comfort the mourners and bring them together. Israel365 was honored to sponsor the meal, comforting the families.
Lag Ba’Omer is celebrated on the 33rd day of the 49-day counting (seven complete weeks) of the Omer between Passover and Shavuot which culminates in the holiday of Shavuot when an offering of two loaves of wheat bread was brought in the Temple. The name of the holiday is derived from its position in the counting of the Omer since ‘Lag’ is spelled by the two Hebrew letters lamed and gimel, which in gematria (Hebrew numerology) equal 33. Before the pandemic, the minor holiday became a major pilgrimage with an estimated 250,000 Israelis gathering at the site.