B’nei Menashe Home in Sderot Burned Down By Lag B’omer Fire

(May 27) Flames that get out of hand in fields and empty lots on Lag B’Omer, the annual holiday celebrated by the lighting of bonfires in honor of the legendary rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, are nothing new in Israel. But what happened to the Mate family of Sderot this year may be an Israeli first: a Lag B’Omer fire that started indoors and gutted a house from within!

Osher (center} with a younger brother and sister.

As told to our Newsletter by Ezra Mate, a father of four children who came to Israel from Manipur in 2014:


“This Lag B”Omer eve, my wife went to fetch our seven-year-old-son Osher from school, dropped him off at home, and went to pick up another of our children at kindergarten. She never dreamed that Osher, who had studied about Lag B’Omer in school, would decide to put what he had learned into practice by lighting a bonfire in our living room. He took some tissue paper, piled old cartons on top of it, and lit them with a match. As soon as they caught fire, he put the fire out, so he thought, and went to the parking lot to help his mother, who had just driven up.”


Unfortunately, Osher was better at lighting fires than at putting them out. “My wife and the two children,” relates Mate, “reached the apartment to find it engulfed in flames. The firemen were called, but by the time the flames were brought under control there wasn’t much left.”

Mate is philosophical about it. “I thank God,” he said, “that Osher had left the house and that no one was hurt. Luckily, too, the apartment itself was insured. We just didn’t have insurance for its contents -- the furniture, beds, clothing, kitchen appliances, and so on. We’ll have to rent a place and buy everything from scratch. The problem is finding the money for it. I would appreciate any help that can be given us.”


Anyone wishing to help the Mates can contribute. Checks can be sent or bank transfers made to his account at Bank Hapoalim, Sderot, Branch number: 649 and account number: 605276. Anyone wishing to contact him by phone may do so at his phone number: +972 542236064.