Chicago Wowed by Community Parade

Chicago families outdid themselves this Lag Baomer, drawing thousands to witness a parade of spectacular floats atop their cars.

By staff

How can Chabad celebrate Lag b’Omer – one of the Rebbe’s iconic innovations – when everyone is required to shelter in place? How can we get the community together when safety dictates that we stay apart?

Enter the genius of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois and the unique power of collective effort.

Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz, executive director of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois, and master of Lag b’Omer was facing a dilemma. For years he spearheaded the annual celebration, it was always a highlight of the calendar. With the Chicago winter melted away and people anxious to go outside and celebrate, thousands flocked to the annual Great Jewish Family Festival! Rides, BBQ, show, clowns, parades; that’s Lag b’omer!

So, what do we do, let the date slip by with some reminiscing of what we used to do? No way! The Rebbe’s call is to turn every situation into a blessing!

Lag b’Omer 5780 must be the BEST lag b’omer – no second best for Illinois!
The first call was to the Sherriff’s department to get the official ok and then with their approval to the community. People at home looking for constructive ways to direct their restless energies and the Anash community was all in! Decorate your car and sign up.

Then Rabbi Moscowitz set out to engage the fifty Chabad centers. Rabbi Yochanan Posner of Chabad of Skokie designed the signage, pickup trucks were arranged, stands for the signs were designed and built, an LED truck broadcasting the Rebbe’s messages was hired, a route designed and here we go!

More than 80 families registered. The day dawned sunny and bright, the trucks lined up the signs affixed to the minivans and Mom Mobiles, creative designs included balloons and streamers. Joyous melodies blasted from the speakers and off they went in procession led by the Sherriff.

“Each year the Chicago Anash volunteer to assist the Great Jewish Family Festival,” said Rabbi Moscowitz. “This year‘s event took participation to a whole new level. For many days leading up to the parade, every family was involved and making their own float. Each family came up with extremely creative themes and created beautiful car top floats.”

At the start of the parade, the participants were treated to a unique virtual community rally with the 12 pesukim recited by local families, the story of Rabbi Akiva, and joyous music.

Up and down the neighborhoods the over 100 vehicles flowed, honking and hooting, and cabin fever riddled families stumbled out into the daylight to cheer them on!

After the first hour they assembled in a nearby parking lot and Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz addressed the assembled, sharing the Rebbe’s message of lag b’omer and its historical cessation of pandemic!

The Anash departed energized and uplifted, gratified to have been able to spread the message of lag b’omer. The festivities were far from over! The sign trucks followed the LED truck off the neighboring suburbs. Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Glencoe, Deerfield, Zigging and Zagging through the posh suburbs making house calls to eager hosts!

Cheers and waves from unsuspecting onlookers who rushed from their homes to see what all the commotion was about, freed from their isolation they sensed celebration when gloom had settled in.

“This was the best!” “Let’s do this every year!” “Thank you for giving my children a sense of excitement and purpose throughout this tiring ordeal!” “Yay Chabad! Nothing can stop us!” These are a sample of the thank yous and “yasher koachs” that fill Rabbi Moscowitz’s inbox post lag b’omer!

As always we never rest – always push forward to bring the lag b’omer message of healing to the community!

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