Everyone knows that Lag BaOmer in Israel is synonymous with bonfires (i.e. medurot, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you). Indeed, every available piece of wood is snatched up weeks in advance, and by Lag BaOmer morning, the entire country reeks of smoke.
But some aspects of this annual ritual are less well-known.
For instance, new olim might not be aware that the kids stay out until early in the morning, when they stumble home, take showers, and jump into bed. (Actually, in our circles, the boys first go to shul to daven at the vatikin minyan, where they promptly fall asleep before the shaliach tzibur has reached Barchu. But I digress…)
This bizarre custom naturally begs the question: What do they do all night?!
And so, as a public service, we here at Our Shiputzim decided to investigate.
Following is the transcript of an interview with a typical Israel teenager (henceforth: ATIT), who agreed to shed some light on this burning question (pun intended).
Our Shiputzim: So, what DO you do there all night?
A Typical Israeli Teenager: Make food, play games, sing, I don’t know.
OS: Food? Could you be more specific?
ATIT: Well, each year it’s different, but there’s always some type of meat. For example, hot dogs, kebobs, wings. We usually grill them on the mangal (BBQ).
OS: What else?
ATIT: Usually there’s soup, sometimes spaghetti, salad, French fries. We make a small fire, next to the medurah, and cook the soup and the pasta over it. The French fries – sometimes, we cut them up from potatoes and fry them in a pot. And other times, we fry ready-made chips.
OS: Please tell me about “smoked tuna” (first referenced here on Our Shiputzim in Rachel’s comment on this post).
ATIT: We don’t make smoked tuna at medurot. It’s more for camping and trips, but I’ll tell you how to prepare it anyway. You take a can of tuna fish in oil and open it without squeezing out the oil. Then, you take a tissue and put it on top of the can. Soak the middle of the tissue in the oil. Then, you light the tissue all around. The fire uses the oil as fuel, and the tissue acts as the wick. When the oil is used up, the fire goes out. You move the tissue, and you can eat the tuna fish.
OS: I understand that the burning can is also used for cooking other things?
ATIT: Yes, that’s correct. If you want, you can put rocks around the can and put a pot on top. You can then cook something – like soup or spaghetti or French fries – in the pot.
OS: Getting back to the medurah, is there anything else you can tell us?
ATIT: I guess, just that the main part is making the food and eating it.
OS: And that takes all night?
ATIT: Well, it takes a long time, because there’s a lot of food, and it takes a while for everything to cook. And besides, that’s what the games and the singing are for – to fill in the time between all the food…
OS: Thank you, ATIT, and may you have a very happy Lag BaOmer.