All week kids have been collecting, scavenging and hoarding every scrap of combustible substance they can lay their hands on.
Tonight, as dusk approached, teens and pre-teens dragged their loot through city streets to open spaces to start the bonfires that mark a long night of celebrating Lag B'Omer, an esoteric, minor holiday. Lag B'Omer is the day on which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai revealed the chief mystical work, the Zohar, through an explosion of fire, and it is the day on which he died. The major celebration takes place in the Galilee town of Meron, next door to Tzfat. Rabbi Shimon is buried in Meron. More than 250,000 people descend on the site (the Jewish population of Israel is 5 million...)
On a different scale, at the park across the street from my place in Jerusalem, dozens of bonfires are roaring and kids are singing, chanting, roasting hotdogs and generally having a great party time.
Unlike in the US where urban parents would never dream of letting their 10 and 12 year olds out of their sight at night in a public park, here the parents drop off the kids and leave them in the care of their only slightly older youth movement leaders.
I'm off to bed with my ear plugs, but the kids will still be out there in the morning when I get up at 6:30 a.m. No school tomorrow...