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Authorities plead with first Meron pilgrims to leave, as time limits go unheeded

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Organizers have called for the first batch of pilgrims to leave Mount Meron’s Lag B’Omer festivities, in order to clear space for new people to enter, a key test of new safety rules meant to avoid overcrowding.

“Please exit slowly and carefully,” an announcer says over the sound system, making the announcement in both Hebrew and Yiddish.

To prevent the types of dangerously large crowds that were seen in previous years, organizers imposed a strictly enforced limit of 16,000 people on the mount at any given time, letting new people up only when others leave.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews attend Lag B’Omer celebrations in Meron on May 18, 2022. (Judah Ari Gross)

After the initial calls are unheeded and pilgrims continue to dance, the announcer again asks for people to leave. “Stop the circles. Stop the circles. Please leave,” he says.

The announcer adds that to ensure “modesty,” the women on Mount Meron are asked to wait until the men have left before they make their way off the site.

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