Ever wondered what the first ever Lag BaOmer celebrations in Meron after the founding of the State of Israel were like? In 1949, following the end of the War of Independence, and the conquest of Meron, Tzfat and other areas in the Galil, the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai could once again become a place of pilgrimage and prayer.

In fact, about 200,000 people flocked to Meron last night in celebration and dancing (you can watch some of the celebrations on this video which was broadcasting live from Meron last night).

But in 1949, the celebrations were much more modest.

The Ministry for Religious Affairs organized the events, which featured those members of the IDF who helped to capture the site during the battles of 1948.

Heading the Ministry was Rabbi Yehuda Leib Maimon (Fishman). Rav Maimon was not only one of the signatories to the Declaration of the State of Israel and even helped to draft it, but he was also the leader of Mizrachi both in the United States, and later in Mandate Palestine!

You can see Rav Maimon attending the unique celebrations in the following archive footage:

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