An estimated 1,500 or more people gathered at Castles & Coasters in Phoenix on May 14 for Chabad of Arizona’s community Lag B’Omer celebration.

The day-long event, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., was a joint program for all the Chabad centers across the state and was publicized as a community day of unity in honor of Lag B’Omer. Activities included riding roller coasters, a rope course and a zip line, as well as a children’s Lag B’Omer program, lunch and a raffle.

Lag B’Omer is a minor Jewish holiday that is literally translated as the 33rd day of the Omer. During the seven-week period of the Omer (between Passover and Shavuot), observant Jews don’t cut their hair, listen to music or hold weddings. On Lag B’Omer, which also marks the end of the deaths of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students who, tradition has it, had been dying due to a lack of mutual respect, these restrictions are lifted, so it is a joyful day celebrated with bonfires, parades and picnics. It is also a popular time for 3-year-old boys to have their first haircut.

In Scottsdale, Congregation Beth Tefillah’s Lag B’Omer celebration included a groundbreaking ceremony for its new property at 6529 E. Shea Blvd. The facility will be more than 16,000 square feet and will include a sanctuary, beit midrash, mikvah, banquet hall, a kosher kitchen, classrooms, a playground and administration offices.

In Chandler, CTeen held a bonfire at s’mores event for teens, and Chabad of Mesa hosted a barbecue in honor of the holiday.

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