Burning Man festival gets OK for larger crowd

Commentary by: Gordon King
I don’t know about you, but this looks more like idol worship to me.  Celebration of a false god.  The “fire god”?  I wonder if most of these people even know what they are doing?

Participants watch the flames from El Pulpo Mecanico during the Burning Man 2012 "Fertility 2.0" arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada

Participants watch the flames from El Pulpo Mecanico during the Burning Man 2012 “Fertility 2.0” arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada


Burning Man, the annual outdoor arts festival near Reno, Nev., has been given permits for 68,000 people to attend this year.

RENO, Nev. — The largest outdoor arts festival in North America is about to become bigger.

Federal land managers have issued Burning Man organizers a four-year special recreation permit that allows a peak population of 68,000 on the northern Nevada desert this year.

Last year, attendance at the offbeat art and music festival on the Black Rock Desert peaked at some 53,000 — well below the previous maximum allowable population of 60,900.

The festival will be held Aug. 26-Sept. 2.

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Jews flee Rio during carnival

Public celebration creates nuisance for Brazilian city’s Jewish community, sparking complaints of immodest sights and life under curfew. Religious residents go as far as escaping to resort towns


While the Brazilian Carnival draws hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, in recent years it has been driving away some local residents.

 Jewish residents of Rio de Janeiro, one of the main centers of celebration, have been leaving their homes and moving to a nearby resort town so as not to expose their children to immodest sights.

 The traditional carnival was held in Brazil this past week, and was quite a nuisance for the 7,000 Orthodox Jews living in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Local residents say that passersby on the street were exposed, against their will, to dancers in revealing clothes which a religious person cannot tolerate.

 They add that on certain hours they were forced to prevent their children from going outside, causing many families to live under curfew.

 Escaping to Teresópolis

 The solution they have found is scheduling their annual vacation for the carnival days, as February is one of the summer months in Brazil. As far as they are concerned, this is the only way to protect their children.

 The favored destination is the nearby resort town of Teresópolis, where most members of the local Jewish community escape to.


המשפחות היהודיות לא נותנות לילדים לצאת לרחוב בימי הקרנבל (צילום: EPA)

Jewish families don’t let kids out during carnival (Photo: EPA)

 Yishai Bonnie, a Bnei Akiva emissary in Rio de Janeiro, says that many families left for the serene resort town last Friday, before the start of the celebrations, and that many others joined them after Shabbat.

 “The Rio Carnival is known to be very extreme,” he explains. “There are drunks on the streets, and it’s a real danger – not to mention the modesty issues.”

 He adds that the carnival takes place all over Rio and cannot be avoided.


נמלטים. משפחת בוני (צילום:  ישי בוני)

Fleeing. The Bonnies (Photo: Yishai Bonnie)

 “Last year we escaped to Sao Paolo,” says Bonnie, “but this time I traveled with my wife and kids to a nearby town for several days.”

 In a conversation from Teresópolis, he reports that most members of his community, “Bar Ilan-Moriah,” which includes some 1,000 Jews, traveled there too and that a kosher restaurant from Rio even opened a branch there.

  This year the carnival was held at the beginning of the Jewish month of Adar, and as far as the emissary is concerned, this is an opportunity to highlight the differences between the Jewish and Brazilian celebrations.

 “The Jewish people celebrate the real joy, the complete joy ahead of the redemption of Passover, a deeper joy inside one’s soul,” he says. “The Purim costumes and the carnival consumes are the exact opposite of each other.

 “On Purim, our joy makes us present gifts to the poor and bring fellowmen closer – compared to the joy of the carnival, which is promiscuous and brutish.”


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