The Niklesburg Beis Medrash of Boro Park once again proudly extends an invitation for the public to join its annual Lag B’Omer celebration. The central Lag B’Omer event in Boro Park, the hadlakah and dancing under the auspices of Grand Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis shlit”a draw thousands of revelers each year.
This year’s festivities will take place at 10 PM on Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Bechikosai, May 17, in front of the shul at 4912 16th Avenue. There will be a designated area for women across the street. Everyone will have the opportunity to light candles in honor of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, whose light spread throughout the world through the Torah he taught. Cold drinks and refreshments will be served throughout the evening.
The bonfire and dancing are an attempt to recreate the sublime atmosphere of unbounded joy and spiritual elevation experienced by all who attend Lag B’Omer in Meron. One man who traveled to Meron many times for Lag B’Omer testified that the dancing at Niklesburg succeeds in duplicating the experience, if only on a small scale. Perhaps this is what draws the crowd of thousands each year, some even arriving from as far away as Monsey to participate. In fact, the cheer and friendliness prevalent at the Niklesburg Lag B’Omer event leaves many looking forward to the experience all year long.
The annual festivities had their very humbly beginning approximately 10 years, when Rabbi Jungreis stepped out of the Beis Medrash with a few of his devoted followers and began dancing on the sidewalk. Passersby attracted by the lively dancing and signing joined them, and slowly the crowd grew. The following year more people joined and since then the gathering has expanded and added new twists with each passing year.
Now the gala event features the Rebbe lighting a large bonfire in the middle of the street. He leads the crowd in singing moving zemiros in addition to the standard Lag B’Omer melodies. The dancing stretches for a block or more as the streets are closed off to traffic, while live music from a Hachnosas Sefer Torah truck creates the backdrop for the dancing. The evening is further graced by various well-known performers whose talented voices add to the air of celebration. The jovial atmosphere draws in all who attend; at Niklesburg everyone feels at home.
At the center of the celebration, of course, the Niklesburg Rebbe shlit”a greets everyone with his trademark warmth and openness that have made his Beis Medrash, the “Jungreis Chesed Center,” a second home to so many. The Rebbe does not think twice about removing his shtreimel and place it on the head of a bachur who is struggling in finding his shidduch, as he dances with the boy and showers him with blessings that find his basherte soon.
In a widely publicized story, this past year Boro Park celebrated the wedding of an African-American man who was megayer and was establishing his own Bayis Ne’eman B’Yisroel. This man recounted that he was originally drawn by the legendary hospitality of the Rebbe shlit”a, and he happened to arrive to meet him in the midst of the Lag B’Omer dancing. The warmth with which the Rebbe shlit”a greeted him and drew him in – despite the fact that he was not yet Jewish at the time – and the openness with which he was accepted by the rest of the community were the deciding factors in his decision to become a ger!
This year Boro Park will once again enjoy “a taste of Meron in New York” as the community joins Niklesurg in rejoicing in the hilula of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The full program will again include the public hadlakah, live music and hours of joyous dancing. Be sure to stop and greet the Rebbe shlit”a and receive his blessings. Sponsorships to help defray the high cost of running the event are welcome. Please contact Rabbi Jungreis directly at: 646-256-4049.