Over 3500 members of the Johannesburg community gathered together in the Great Park Forest in celebration of Lag B’Omer and Jewish Unity. A broad spectrum of forty-one Johannesburg communities and organisations participated in the festivities.
Choirs and a marimba band from King David Schools and Torah Academy entertained the huge crowd sitting on the lawns between the trees. Live performances by the Johnny Sklar Band and young phenomenon Shmuli Brill enthralled the crowds.
Rabbi Eitan Ash arranged a moving presentation of the Twelve Psukim which were led on screen by Rabbi Danny Cohen and his children together with soldiers in Chevron, by a young Torah Academy student who is receiving treatment in New York and by children attending Torah Academy representing the diverse participating communities.
Children enjoyed the exciting array of rides and shows. Food was on sale at affordable prices. Glynda Kramer and family led a formidable Great-Park food production team. Families were treated to free popcorn, candyfloss and soup. Fifty bonfires lit and warmed the forest.
A separate young adults section for the over 21’s included K Space arranged by Rabbi Levi and Leah Lipskar, and YAD arranged by Naomi Hadar of the Israel United Appeal. They enjoyed the special ambience until after midnight.
Blankets were sold to keep out the evening chill. They were returned at the end of the evening to be distributed to the poor through the offices of Afrika Tikkun. The blankets will be given out by the Bar and Bat Mitzvah girls and boys of our community.
An Ahavas Yisroel/Chesed project was launched in the Jewish Days schools by Rabbi Eliyahu Sasson who prepared lesson plans for teachers regarding the power of Hakhel and Jewish Unity.
Students chose an act of chesed to present and their projects were displayed at the event. Winners were announced and won a helicopter ride over Johannesburg and other exciting prizes. Students were videoed at their schools sharing their thoughts about Ahavas Yisroel. This was presented on screen through the generous professional assistance of Mark Badler of Show T.V.
Greg Hurvitz, choirmaster at Great Park, was the energetic Master of Ceremonies who kept the program moving.
The event coordinator, Lisa Zimmerman, raised the bar once again to ensure an exceptional, best-ever, Shmooza Lag B’Omer 5776.
Rabbi Dovid Hazdan of the Great-Park Synagogue – the host of the powerful show of Jewish unity and pride – drew the connection to this year of Hakhel – Jewish unity, and to the powerful opportunity it affords us to add in our commitment to draw closer together as a Jewish community and to draw inspiration from the Torah.