Among the highlights of Lag B’Omer are lighting a medura (bonfire) in honor of Rabbe Shimon Bar Yochai and going on outings. In what is becoming an annual tradition at Yeshiva Ohr Boruch, the Veitzener Cheder, while students in Preschool through 4th grade celebrated on the Cheder grounds, Grades 5-8 went on a “Mini-Meron” outing to Camp Nageela Midwest in Marshall, Indiana.
The trip began with great anticipation on Lag B’Omer Eve, after an intensive day of learning. The bus ride itself was something to “write home” about, as the students spontaneously sang beautiful Jewish songs, followed by a fascinating story, making the four-hour trip seem much shorter than it was. After settling into their respective rooms, the students headed down to the pavilion for a delicious BBQ supper prepared by fellow students.
After nightfall, there was thunder – not from the picture perfect weather, but from a heartfelt Maariv (evening) prayer, then everyone headed to “the pit” for one of the highest bonfires Nageela has ever seen. The “near-Meron” experience was enhanced by lively music, and songs about Rabbe Shimon Bar Yochai. A story told by firelight led into the sudden illumination of the night sky with a dazzling fireworks display, an incredible grand finale for the evening. After a brief snack, the boys prepared to retire for the night, to “recharge” for the busy day to come. Many talmidim actually did sleep, but even those who could not behaved with great respect for their sleeping roommates.
By seven a.m., all were “up and running”, davening Shacharis (morning prayers) in exemplary fashion. The Principal, Rabbi Mandel, spoke about the loftiness of Lag B’Omer and the gifts that Raban Shimon Bar Yochai bequeathed to the Jewish People, particularly the holy Zohar. Rabbi Mandel conveyed his sincere appreciation to the students for their outstanding conduct and to the Rabbeim (faculty), for leaving their families to give the boys this unforgettable experience. After a quick, delicious breakfast, the students headed to various locations to learn with their Rabbeim; it was amazing to see how they utilized the time to its fullest, learning with focus and enthusiasm. Next came the day’s activities – the boys rotated between bicycle riding (with helmets of course!), horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, trampolining and ziplining. The weather was gorgeous, and all had a fabulous time.
After a quick lunch, pack up and “cleanup” the boys settled in for a pleasant, “restful” ride back to the Cheder (which of course was enhanced by Chicago’s Rush Hour traffic), arriving bleary-eyed but exhilarated. An outstanding aspect of the trip was seeing all the effort invested in the students’ education bear fruit. The comportment and sheer joy of the students was truly remarkable.
The excursion will long remain emblazoned in the memories of the students and their teachers alike.