Monday, April 12, 2010

Boombamela 2010: The Hottest Way to Celebrate Passover

If you're still putting away the Pesach dishes and getting your house back to normal, you might be thinking of spending Passover next year at a warm resort in Florida, Arizona, Puerto Rico, or even in Europe.

But this year, as in the past eight years, those looking for an unorthodox Pesach that generates lots of heat, trekked to a slice of Israel that doesn't usually get much traffic except for the intermediate days of Passover, namely a kibbutz named Nitzanim, between Ashdod and Ashkelon on the Mediterranean Sea.

So what's the attraction?  Boombamela, an annual beach festival that appeals to tens of thousands of Israeli teens and twentysomethings looking for more than reading the Haggadah and feasting on endless matzah creations.

A few years ago, Steve Lipman, writing in The Jewish Week, described the festival this way:
When you think of Passover, you don’t usually think of bungee jumping, yoga sessions and reggae music.Unless you were at Nitzanim beach, near Ashkelon, this week. That’s where the ninth annual New Age festival, Boombamela, took place during three intermediate days of Pesach. Inspired by the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival, Boombamela draws ten of thousands of Israelis, most of them in their 20s, for 18-hour-a-day seminars with imported Indian gurus, performances by rock bands, and nude beaches. And sesame sumo bouts, roller skate courses and karaoke. Kosher food and prayer services are available, too. Boombamela, according to its organizers, is a “place for meeting, experiencing, crossing borders and transcending social limitations through music, creation, and connection with music.”
For anyone who observes a traditional Passover, the festival can be a real jolt.  As one commenter said on YouTube:  תראו מה הלך בחוף ניצנים בחול המועד פסח ובשבת !!! ה' ישמור גילוי עריות פריצות אכילת חמץ אלו דברים המעכבים את הגאולה A rough translation:  See what's going on in Nitzanim on Chol Hamoed Pesach and on Shabbat!  God will watch the nudity and eating of chametz.  These are the things that will delay the  redemption.

But there's hope.  In an audio podcast on Israel National Radio, Ben Bresky reports that Jewish outreach has become an accepted part of the festival, and how secular Israeli youth interact with Beit Chabad and Kfar Tefillah. You can hear from festival organizers about their acceptance of Torah services and from rabbis about their acceptance of teenagers worshippers in shorts and sandals. Plus, the story of how the Boombamela producer had his bar mitzvah in the sand.

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