It made the street parties for the royal wedding seem minuscule. On Saturday night, 500,000 Israelis flocked to the Galilee village of Meron, where they sang, danced and feasted, in honour of the festival of Lag B'Omer.
But not everybody was overjoyed by the party. Tzohar, a powerful alliance of modern-Orthodox rabbis, has accused the mostly-Charedi rabbis who lead celebrations of "hypocrisy."
Tzohar's reasoning is that the party necessitates a huge police operation, which begins hours before revellers arrive. This year, it meant thousands of policemen working on Shabbat.
The group's chairman, David Stav, said it is unacceptable that Charedi rabbis protest against firms that open on Shabbat and pressure them to close, but caused "Sabbath transgression" in Meron. "I think there is a hypocrisy where the Orthodox demand El Al and other companies to keep Shabbat but when it comes to moving a celebration to enable people to keep Shabbat, it did not happen," he said.
Tzohar had actually convinced Israel's two Chief Rabbis, Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar, to rule that Lag B'Omer should be delayed. But their ruling was universally ignored, as the Charedi rabbis who run the Meron celebration refused to move it and the Education Ministry declined to shift the day-long school holiday from Sunday to Monday.