Lag B'Omer begins after Shabbat on May 13 2017.
According to Jewish tradition, the 49 days that separated the Exodus from Egypt (Pesach/Passover) and the Giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai (Shavouth) is a solemn time in the Jewish calendar. It is referred to as the "Sephirat HaOmer" -- counting of the Omer, and is an important time of Kabbalistic meaning. Observant Jews count each day of the Omer and observe a number of mourning traditions, including refraining from cutting hair, hearing music and celebrating weddings and other festive occasions.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the redactors of the Talmud and, according to Jewish belief, the writer of the basic book of Kabbalah -- The Zohar -- died on "Lag B'Omer," the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer. From early times, Jews combined his memory by combining the anniversary of his passing with a mini-holiday that commemorated the end of a plague amongst the students of another Talmudic sage, Rabbi Akiva. This day served as a "break" in the Omer and activities that were prohibited otherwise during the Counting of the Omer were permitted on Lag B'Omer.
Safed and Lag B'Omer
When the great Kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luria, came to Tzfat in 1570, he instituted a number of new customs that linked Jewish mysticism with conventional Jewish rituals, among them a Lag B'Omer pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Tsfat, located a 4-hour walk from the tomb of the "Rashbi," was the logical point from which pilgrims would set off on their pilgrimage. Since the 16th century, Tsfat and Lag B'Omer have been intertwined.
Today, by virtue of a Knesset law, formal celebrations for Lag B'Omer begin with the Torah procession that begins in Tzfat's Kikar Abu erev (the day before) Lag B'Omer (scroll down for more details).
Bonfires are lit throughout the city to commemorate the soldiers of Bar Kochba who fought against the Romans in the 2nd century C.E. The central bonfire is on Mt. Meron but throughout Tsfat neighborhoods gather to light their own bonfires. Some of the largest and most active bonfires are in the Hassidic neighborhoods of Kiryat Chabad (Canaan northern neighborhood), Meor Chaim (Darom-Southern neighborhood) and Kiryat Breslev (just below the Old Jewish Quarter on HaAri Street).
If you would like to walk to Meron from Safed, you can walk the Wadi Amud trail that begins below the Safed cemetery. The trail takes approximately 4 hours to complete and brings you to the grave of the Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai). Hikers are advised to bring several liters of water with them as they walk the trail. The trail is a popular one and, especially during the spring, one of Israel's most beautiful nature sites.
Mystic Mountain is located at 2 Revitsky Lane -- up the stairs from Avraham's tent (near the Rimonim Hotel) or down the stairs on the lane across from Beit Yigal Alon Center.
MM generally opens on Thursday nights and serves the Tzfat-brewed, award-winning Mystic Mountain beer plus food and entertainment
Safed Visit and Self-Guided Tour
If you come to Tzfat during Lag B'Omer you have a number of options to visit the city. There is a walking tour of the Old Jewish Quarter. You can take a tour with a tour guide or you may take a virtual self-guided tour with a smartphone (or, if you don't have a smartphone, watch the video tour before you set out on your walk).
The traditional parade that formally launches Lag B'Omer begins in Kikar Abu in the Old Jewish Quarter on Friday May 12th, at noon. According to a tradition that began in the 1800s, the Torah scroll is removed from the home of the Abu family in Kikar Abu (Abu Square) amidst music and celebration. The participants dance with it through the Old Jewish Quarter, up to the main street where shop owners put out food and drinks for the celebrants. The Torah scroll arrives at the bus station where it is transported to Mt. Meron for the Lag B'Omer festivities at the grave of the Rashbi.
There are accommodations in Safed to match any budget if you want to stay in the city overnight. Many people come to Safed to experience the Lag B'Omer festivities in Safed before heading to Meron at night or the next morning.
In addition to the regular list of accomomdations, there are special Lag b'Omer accommodations as well.
Lag B'Omer Transportation
Buses run between Tsfat and Meron every 15 minutes throughout Lag B'Omer night (Saturday night) and into the next day (Sunday). The buses to Mt. Meron leave from the Central Bus Station and return to the bus station. You can come to Tzfat and take a bus from Tzfat to Meron or you can book a seat on the Nateeve Express bus line from other areas of the country (for phone information, call *3353). More information about Tsfat transportation can be found here.