In an unprecedented display of unity, the busy street Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA, known for its shops and Kosher restaurants, was home to this past Sunday Lag B’Omer Parade; families, and particularly children from all walks of life and background came together to celebrate the Hilula of the Rashbi – and celebrate they did, in grand fashion.
Rabbi “General” Chaim Mentz from Chabad of Bel Air & Rabbi Mayer Greene from Chabad of the Valley MC’d the program. After welcoming everyone, they took a moment to thank everyone that came. Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, Director of West-Coast Chaabd and Head Shliach of the Rebbe to the state of California, came up to shared divrei bracha & chizuk to every. He introduced Councilman Paul Koretz who thanked everyone for coming. This was followed by a special presentation to Attorney Mr. Doug Honig for his tremendous assistance to Chabad of California.
Rabbi Cunin then introduced a special video presentation of the Rebbe, showing highlights of the Lag B’Omer Parade 5744.
After the video, the Platt Brothers came on stage and got the crowd smiling from ear to ear with their amazing dance & acrobatic routine. This was followed by an amazing performance by Chaim Fogelman, who, in classic manner, set the mood as he had the crowd – children & adults alike – clamoring for more.
The highlight of the rally were the 12 Pesukim, MC’d by Rabbi Mendel Duchman, director of the Kol Yaakov Yehuda Shul and son-in-law of the legendary Rabbi J.J. Hecht (the long-time MC of all of the Rebbe’s children & Lag B’Omer rallies). Children from different schools from across Southern California were honored to lead in their recitation, including one group from Reno, Nevada that came all the way to see, for the first time in their lives, a Jewish festival of this magnitude.
The rally ended off with a bang as the TNT Dunk Squad kept the crowd at seat’s edge with their acrobatics and acro-dunking abilities.
Prior to the beginning of the parade, Rabbi Mendel Duchman made a surprise presentation to Rabbi Shlomo Cunin; an original “Lag B’Omer Coin” given by the Rebbe to the Chassidim (thru the Chevrei HaKollel) in the year 5751. The coin bears the quote of “L’Chatchila Ariber” of the Rebbe Maharash – a motto that Rabbi Cunin always lives by.
The parade was up next; the grandest one the West Coast has ever seen. A procession of over an hour that featured a kaleidoscope of amenities: a motorcycle brigade, Scottish bag pipes, representation from the army & veterans association, the police department (which included a vintage police car), specialty sports cars, a speed boat with Rabbi Shlomo Menkes, bicycle brigade, amongst others.
And then there was Charlie.
The Cheder Menachem marching Band & Flag Procession riled up the crowd as the talk of the town – and most of Lubavitch – made his appearance. To thousands of smiling faces, Charlie Button, “The Grand Marshall” to the Los Angeles Lag B’Omer Parade, made his appearance in grand style, riding atop of a Convertible, waving to everyone and blowing balloons for some youngsters.
After weeks of labor, 9 floats made their way along the parade route. The floats focused on basic Jewish ideas and values: Tefilla (Cheder Menachem & KYY boys), Derech Eretz (KYY girls), Shalosh Regalim (YOEC Zal), Chinuch, (YOEC Smicha), the 10 Mivtzoim (Bais Chana), Every mitzvah is a brick to the Beis Hamikdosh (YOEC Mesivta), Bayis Molei Seforim (Cheder Menachem 6th Grade) & a beautiful model of the Beis Hamikdosh (Bais Bezalel Chabad). Without a doubt these floats were the nicest and most creative floats that Los Angeles has ever seen. The final float was the Siyum Sefer Torah in memory of Mr. Eddie Coe, which will find its’ home in Chabad of Malibu.
Following the floats, children from each school joined in the grand Lag B’Ome Parade; Yeshivos & Hebrew Schools, followed by shuls from all over marched with their hand-held banners, held up high and proud as they paraded through the streets of Los Angeles.
Following the parade, a full-day fair & carnival, full of rides, carnival booths and a petting zoo was waiting and ready for all to enjoy. A simultaneous 2nd concert that featured Chaim Fogelman & The Cheder Boys Choir entertained the crowd. A surprise appearance of Rabbi Shlomo Menkes brought smiles to all.
The entire event was made possible thanks to the generous financial assistance from the event’s corporate sponsors: Noni of Beverly Hills, Beverly Judaica & Gifts, Budget Rent a Car, Project Pride, Western Kosher, Milano Wigs, The YES Lender, Jewpon.com, Ness Paper on the West, FridayLight.org, Tribe Media Corp., The Running Springs Retreat Center & Pitaway.
All in all, a most meaningful, exciting & enjoyable day was had by all. Surely the Rebbe gained much nachas.
The Lag B’Omer Parade is a culmination of the combined efforts of many Chabad mosdos in Southern California: West Coast Chabad-Lubavitch, Kol Yaakov Yehuda , Bais Bezalel Chabad, Bais Chana, Bais Chaya Mushka, Chabad of Bel Air, Chabad of Beverlywood , Chabad of Century City, Chabad of the Conejo, Chabad Israel Center, Chabad of Larchmont, Chabad of Malibu, Chabad of Manhattan Beach, Chabad of North Hollywood, Chabad of Pacific Palisades, Chabad of SOLA, Chabad of The Valley, Chabad Russian Center, Chabad Persian Youth, Chabad Russian Center, Chabad Youth Programs, Cheder Menachem, The Garden School, Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad.
In particular, a special thank you goes to Rabbi Chaim Nochum Cunin of Chabad of California, Rabbi Mendel Duchman of Kol Yaakov Yehuda, Rabbi Yossi Burston of Chabad Youth Programs, Rabbi Mayer Green of Chabad of Tarzana, Rabbi Chaim Mentz of Chabad of Bel Air, the Talmidei HaShluchim of YOEC Mesivta & Beis HaMidrash & Rabbi Leibel Cohen of Cheder Menachem.
For more pictures and video footage, feel free to visit the parade’s blog @ www.lagbomerla.blogspot.com