Over a thousand people from all walks of Jewish life turned out to celebrate Lag B’omer at a community-wide unity event held in Cleveland, OH.
Chabad Communities of Cleveland’s inaugural Great Jewish Family Festival was billed as a community-wide unity event and on a clear, sunny Lag B’omer it was definitely that and much more. It was organized jointly by Bais Dovid Cleveland, Chabad CLE, Zemach Zedek, and the Cleveland Brotherhood.
Baruch Hashem, over a thousand people turned out to celebrate Lag B’omer with family and friends from all walks of Jewish life. Said Rabbi Shmuli Friedman, “We were blessed from Hashem that we saw an outstanding unification of the Cleveland Jewish community as Jews, one thousand strong, came together to celebrate the principles of brotherly love and Torah values.”
Held at Cleveland’s Waxman Chabad Center, set against a magnificent three-story backdrop of the Twelve Pesukim facing the Center’s busy road, the event was from 4pm to 9pm and had food, and free rides and activities for everyone.
Official events began at 5pm with a massive Tzivos Hashem children’s rally enthusiastically emceed by Rabbi Dr. Shmulie Margolin. HaRav Sholom Ber Chaikin began the rally with the Rebbe’s Kapitel, followed by Shmulie Margolin relating to the crowd the significance of Lag B’omer parades; that the Rebbe urged us to not just be comfortable with yiddishkeit in shul and at home, but to march proudly, say pesukim, and do mitzvos loudly and proudly in the open.
Rebbetzin Chemda Jacobs of Torah Nursery distributed hundreds of specially prepared packages to the children. The packages included coins for tzedakah, the 12 pesukim, the Rebbe’s Kapitel and a snack for each child.
The children enjoyed a refreshing snack as Master storyteller Rabbi Yossi Kirsch of Professor Torah Productions shared a lively story. The Twelve Pesukim were then recited led by children of anash and shluchim, while the large crowd responded enthusiastically. After the last posuk everyone began to sing “We Want Moshiach Now!”
With great fanfare, the marching band of Tzivos Hashem of Cleveland Brigade led by Rabbi Yanky Jacobs and Grand Marshal Rabbi Shmuli Friedman made their debut and entrance to begin the parade. The band was joined by hundreds of children and their parents, most walking but some on bikes and scooters, waving banners, flags and mitzvah signs as the parade wound through the neighborhoods around the event.
All this was followed by a superb magic show that enthralled both adults and children alike. Fun and activities continued until dusk set, and a large bonfire lit up the night until the music could no longer play.
During the five hour celebration, attendees enjoyed delicious barbeque food, concessions, free rides, archery, many inflatables, free Jewish-themed games and bungee jumping. More than once supplies and beverages ran out (B”H a good problem) and the energetic girls manning the concessions never lost their smiles as attendees patiently waited for their fare.
Led by R’ A.J. Bulua & R’ Michoel Bloom, many, many, volunteers, sponsors, and organizers, from across the community came together to make the event an amazing success. As one of the organizers noted “It was really heartwarming to see such a large and vibrant crowd come out and enjoy! We were truly blessed from Hashem that as a result of the Chabad Communities of Cleveland working together, we saw an outstanding turnout of the broader Cleveland Jewish community as Jews, one thousand strong, come together to celebrate Jewish pride and unity.”