Midburn 2015: Seeking Transcendence at the Israel Regional Burn

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This spring, in a desert halfway around the world from Black Rock, another Man will burn. The second Midburn, the official Israel regional event, is May 20–24, 2015. The theme is Transcendence. There is now a beacon of Burning Man culture in the Middle East, and may it be a force for peace.

Ha’ish (the Man) burns on the night of Shavuot. It’s the holiday of the gathering at Mount Sinai, the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses, the bonding together of a holy community through an earth-shaking mass revelation in the desert. This Biblical event underlies all the faiths — Islam, Christianity and Judaism alike — that call these flowering deserts the Holy Land. People of all those faiths — and plenty of people from non-faiths — Israelis, Palestinians, and international travelers will share the burn that night.

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It’s traditional on Shavuot to stay up all night having your mind blown. That shouldn’t be a problem at Midburn. The 2014 event boasted 2,876 participants, 40 theme camps and 50 art installations, and the organizers plan to double the numbers this time. Pulling it off will rely on more than 70 volunteers.

“The Midburn community has been active for over four years,” explain organizers Eyal Marcus and Michael Lerner over email. “Much like the group of original Burning Man attendees, Midburn started as a group of friends, all Burners, who held gatherings on the beach in Israel.” The community grew organically, and eventually a group of Burners decided to take the leap and become an official Regional. After 10 months of volunteer work, Midburn came to life. And it will be twice as ambitious in its second year.

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“This year we are looking at having twice as many camps, twice as many art installations and twice as many people!” Lerner and Marcus say. “This growth has all come organically. We have tried to maintain the right amount of virgins to [veterans] in order to keep the essence of Burning Man and its 10 Principles alive and flourishing.”

The 2014 event wasn’t perfect, of course — they never are. The 2014 Transparency Report is an amazingly thorough document of the ups and downs of a good-sized event in its first year. Yes, they had some MOOP problems. Don’t we all? But we’re Burners. We try not to make messes, but when we do — or when someone else in our community does — we damn sure clean them up.

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That’s the 10 Principles in a nutshell, and it’s what a Burning Man event represents: making a big mess together and cleaning it up. Together. Every Burn in every land exists to inspire everyone to look around at the mess, to take responsibility for it, and to have a little fun cleaning it up. There are a lot of messes in the world. The work ahead feels overwhelming. Maybe a spark of revelation in the desert can help get it started.

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Tickets for Midburn go on sale starting January 24, and they’re expected to sell out quickly: English | עברית

Photos from the Midburn 2014 Genesis Facebook album

About the author: Jon Mitchell

Jon Mitchell

is the publisher of the Burning Man Journal, the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter, and the Burning Man website. His playa name is Argus. He co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012. He’s been a Burner since 2008. Email: argus@burningman.org

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