Over 3,500 people from all segments of the Chicago Jewish community came together to celebrate Lag B’Omer at the Great Jewish Family Festival, organized by Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois.
Last week, more than 3,500 people from all segments of the Chicago Jewish community came together to celebrate Lag B’Omer at the Great Jewish Family Festival, organized by Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois, which was held at a spacious park with a wide open area of green grassy area to picnic, dance, and celebrate.
There were roving entertainers, such as magicians, jugglers, and even a stilt walker, who delighted the children and adults alike as they wended their way through the crowd. The highlight of the festival was a live concert by Eig8th Day, a popular Jewish band. The crowd also enjoyed the performance of the Cheder marching band, directed by Matt Kanter, which displayed remarkable precision and coordination.
Special for this year, the festivities began with the upersherin of Mendel Scherbina, son of Rabbi Chaim and Chaya Mushka Scherbina.
Like past years, the event featured an all-you-can-eat buffet, manned by volunteers of Lubavitch Girls High School, and a variety of entertainment options.
The first Lag B’Omer parade in Chicago was arranged by the head Shliach to Illinois, Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz in the late 1970s, and the festival is now run by his son executive director of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois Rabbi Yosef Shmuel Moscowitz.
Originally large events were only held when Lag B’omer was on Sunday. Since 2010 a group of young shluchim joined the effort to create a festival of all Chabad centers in Illinois. This year marked the 14th consecutive year of the Lag B’omer festival and the most well-attended.
“This event keeps on getting better and better each year,” said one participant, who had come with her husband and seven children. “The food, the entertainment, the atmosphere, and the venue were all exceptional this year. I wonder how they will possibly top it next year!”
Rabbi Meir Moscowitz read a telegram the Rebbe send to Italy on Lag B’omer of Hakhel year 1967. The children were mesmerized by Rabbi Epstein’s stories and enjoyed the raffle prizes, drawn by the host shliach Rabbi Yosef Posner. The 12 Pesukim were led by children from Chabad Hebrew schools in Northbrook, Skokie, and Wilmette, as well as the Friendship Circle Talmud Torah.
“It was incredible. The weather was perfect. The people were so excited and the band really brought it all together” said, coordinator of the program Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz. “The kids loved it. The parents loved it. Everybody enjoyed this Chicagoland Lag B’omer event especially coming all together in honor of this Hakhel year.”
“Next year, Lag B’omer is on Sunday,” continued Rabbi Moscowitz, “and we already started planning something even greater. It’s going to be the Lag B’omer parade with Moshiach in Yerushalayim.”