NEXTGen Detroit hosts second annual Lag b’Omer Blowout.
More than 200 young adults came together to celebrate Lag b’Omer, the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer from Passover to Shavuot. The event was held on Sunday, April 28, at the Friendship Circle in West Bloomfield.
The Lag b’Omer event, a partnership between Federation’s NEXTGen Detroit and Partners in Torah, included a premium barbecue with NEXTGen volunteers grilling on site, drinks, Torah on Tap sessions given by Rabbi Leiby Burnham of Partners in Torah, and a bonfire with s’mores at the end of the night.
The event was chaired by Jared Goldman of Royal Oak and Joshua Goldberg of West Bloomfield, in partnership with Rabbi Burnham and with Rabbi Yisrael Pinson of the Friendship Circle.
“I think it’s a big deal that we’ve taken a holiday that’s unknown by most Jewish young adults and brought it back into awareness as a positive and cool thing; it’s about more than just a barbecue,” Goldberg says.
Last year, the event was created to educate NEXTGen’ers about this little-known holiday in a fun way, and no one could have foreseen that it would become one of the most popular NEXTGen events of the year. When Goldberg and Goldman were planning out their goals for the year, there was no question as to whether or not to repeat this event.
“This is such a great program because not only does it bring young people from our community together, but it also informs them about the religion and their traditions in a fun, exciting way,” Goldman says.
Burnham, NEXTGen executive board member and director of outreach for Partners in Torah, says, “I was simply amazed by the tremendous turnout! So many people came and so many people were interested in learning about Lag b’Omer! Between the awesome people, the ridiculous sausage and the Torah on Tap spin, the Lag b’Omer Blowout is starting to become a real Jewish Detroit icon!”
One event attendee of Southfield, Ariella Shaffren, agrees. Originally from New Jersey, she moved to Detroit a little over a year ago with her husband Dani and 2-year-old son Kobi. “‘It was an inspirational night where I learned more about Lag b’Omer, made new friends and ate great food,” says Shaffren.
She says her family moved to Detroit to join a warm Jewish community where they can really make a difference and have been welcomed with open arms. “Our first year in Detroit has exceeded our expectations; the warmth, close community and the ability to become part of a family here have really made our transition easy and comfortable.”
This event represents the tremendous growth of Federation’s NEXTGen Detroit, now a year old. While many in attendance had not celebrated this holiday before, hundreds came out to join together to celebrate young Jewish Detroit as a whole.
For more information about NEXTGen Detroit, or to learn about upcoming events, visit the NEXTGen website at www.nextgen.jewishdetroit.org.