Monday, April 22, 2013

Lag B'Omer in Tzfat

It's that time again -- Lag B'Omer in Tzfat. Lag B'Omer is kind of a requirements, no obligations, just good old fun. Most of Israel celebrates with bonfires that commemorate the students of Rabbi Akiva who were saved from a plague that was killing them off (I never quite figured out why the celebration since tens of thousands of them had, evidently, already died) while the Hassidic and religious public dedicate the date to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who is believed to have written the Zohar which outlines Kabbalah study.

R' Bar Yochai's gravesite is on Mt. Meron, across the valley from Tzfat, and in the 16th century the ARI, Rabbi Isaac Luria, a great Kabbalist, initiated the custom of visiting R' Bar Yochai's grave on Lag B'Omer. In recent years it has become a major pilgrimage site with hundreds of thousands of people, largely Hassidim and Sepharadim but others who come to see the party as well.

Tzfat, the largest town in the area (and also connected to the tradition) gets the spillover and if I had 10 guestrooms to rent out this Shabbat, I could have filled them all easily.  My niece and nephew, who are both studying here for the year, are coming up and since I did rent out my guestroom, we'll all be cozy upstairs on mattresses and couches.

A more thorough explanation is given by my rapper friend in the video above.

The weather has been bizarre....rain, rain, rain for the last week, and super cold (for israel that is, though I'm not comparing to Detroit-cold) but as of today it's supposed to start getting warmer and by Shabbat should be fairly balmy. I can use a little warmth in my bones.

I had an interesting meeting yesterday -- the online education company that I'm working for is looking to increase their marketing efforts and they wanted to know what I could suggest. I'm not a marketer, though if I ever went back to study, I think that I'd like to study marketing because it's so interesting...trying to predict consumer behavior and match the marketing campaign to those predictions.

Today marketing is a science involving search engines, optimizations, keywords, metatags, etc., but thanks to a few small business courses that I've attended and a lot of YouTube videos and marketing blog reading (and a great tutorial on SEO by a local tzaddik who sat with me for 2 1/2 hours and wouldn't take a penny for his efforts) I can offer some ideas without sounding like a complete fool. Anyway, most of the efforts involve good old-fashioned work (identifying blogs and other sites that will link to our site, rebuilding the website to really reflect what the company is doing) and that's not rocket science, just work. I find that I enjoy the work and like the challenge so I'm having a ball! 

Of course, I also get to experiment on my own site (the tzaddik gave me some pointers there too) but I'd  better keep reading the blogs to stay one step ahead.

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