An Essay by Rochel Kaplan, Chabad of Maryland

MERON. We will never forget you

All the roses were plucked on the holy day of Lag Baomer. HKBH chooses the roses.

Forty-Five. Every age group, every segment of Jewish observance. United souls bouqueted to The Almighty at the resting place of the holy sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Love, brotherhood, self-sacrifice, unity, soul-searching- all playing out, crying out, pouring out for our lost family, torn asunder, rising heavenward to the gates of heaven in holy ecstasy.

Children pre-bar mitzvah, post-bar mitzvah, bochurim, brothers, friends, engaged, yungerleit with young families: single digits, teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s- a whole spectrum of life.

A colorful bouquet, a spectrum of Rabbi Akiva’s students: Shalavim, litvish, Mir, Chabad, Satmar, Vishnitz, Gur, Bobov, Breslov- united In Echad.

As I watched funerals, heard painful cries, observed mournfully the loss of so many heartbroken bereft family members, awoke to expressions of Bitochon and Emunah young and old- I have never felt more closely aligned- with Klal Yisroel.

To see this tragedy of our people as an outsider-different colors and stripes-is nothing short of pitiful. The very fabric of “Jewish” is the enduring soul: individual bodies but one intrinsic soul. To feel a part of the Jewish nation- its beating heart- is to connect, to accept, to embrace, and to love each and every difference.

Forty-Five reasons multiplied by families and friends- every bit of Jewish blood is our bloodline from the beginning of creation to eternity. We have one Father in Heaven.

The Rashbi together with his student Rabbi Akiva, master this oneness on Lag Baomer- Meron- forever in our hearts- we will never forget you.