Pilot ‘Yerusha’ program seeks new level
of engagement for kids and their parents.
On an unseasonably hot Sunday afternoon in May, Karen and David Nathan are in their Princeton, N.J., backyard with their two children and four other families.
But instead of barbecuing or chatting, the parents are watching as the kids, ranging in age from 5 to 14, prepare to act out a story from the Talmud.
Justus Baird, a soft-spoken entrepreneur-turned-rabbi, passes out the short scripts and divides up the parts — which include Elijah the Prophet, God and Old Man with Two Myrtle Branches — among the 11 children.
The mountaintop city of Meron, in northern Israel, is the country’s second-highest spot, but for one day each spring it is the highest in religious passion.
On Lag b’Omer, the 33rd day of the period between Passover and Shavuot, an estimated quarter-million people, from secular to haredi, ascend to the open grounds of the city that becomes Israel’s answer to the Kentucky Derby or the Indianapolis 500 — an annual Woodstock that attracts families instead of hippies. Pilgrims and tourists come days in advance, arriving by car and bus and van.