Lag BaOmer is a minor holiday that occurs on the 33rd day of the Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot. A break from the semi-mourning of the Omer, key aspects of Lag B’Omer include holding Jewish weddings (it’s the one day during the Omer when Jewish law permits them), lighting bonfires, and getting haircuts.
When the great Kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luria, came to Tzfat in 1570, he instituted several new customs linking Jewish mysticism with conventional Jewish rituals. Among them included a Lag BaOmer pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Tsfat, located a 4-hour walk from the tomb of the “Rashbi,” was the logical point from which pilgrims would set off on their pilgrimage. Since the 16th century, Tsfat and Lag BaOmer have been intertwined.
Today, under Knesset law, formal celebrations for Lag BaOmer begin with the Torah procession that begins in Tzfat’s Kikar Abu erev (the day before) Lag BaOmer.
Bonfires are lit throughout the city to commemorate the soldiers of Bar Kochba who fought against the Romans in the 2nd century C.E. The central bonfire is on Mt. Meron. However, throughout Tsfat neighborhoods gather to light their own bonfires. Some of the largest and most active bonfires occur in the Hassidic neighborhoods of Kiryat Chabad (Canaan northern neighborhood), Meor Chaim (Darom-Southern neighborhood), and Kiryat Breslev (just below the Old Jewish Quarter on HaAri Street).