Knesset committee okays rules curtailing Meron Lag B’Omer pilgrimage

Ultra-Orthodox Jews covered with prayer shawls gather next to fire as they take part in prayers next to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai during Lag B'Omer celebrations at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, early Thursday, May 10, 2012.  (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews covered with prayer shawls gather next to fire as they take part in prayers next to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai during Lag B'Omer celebrations at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, early Thursday, May 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

A Knesset committee has given the go-ahead to a set of emergency regulations meant to largely shut this year’s Lag B’Omer gathering on Mount Meron in northern Israel over security concerns.

Under the regulations green-lit by the Knesset National Security Committee, a single traditional bonfire will be lit on the mountain at the gravesite of second century rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, with participation capped at 10 approved guests.

Two more bonfires will also be permitted at a Bnei Akiva yeshiva on the site, with 10 more guests each, pending the approval of Heritage Minister Meir Porush.

Porush will also have the power to approve permits for representatives of families of those killed in a deadly crush at the site in 2021 to attend a memorial prayer, along with residents of the adjacent town of Meron.

Smoke rises after rockets fired from Lebanon hit an open area on Mount Meron, May 15, 2024. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The annual Lag B’Omer pilgrimage regularly draws hundreds of thousands of participants to Meron, largely from the ultra-Orthodox community. The minor Jewish holiday begins Saturday night.

The mountain is home to a key military air control station that has been targeted several times by Hezbollah missiles launched from Lebanon, leading officials to call for the pilgrimage to be canceled this year.

The emergency measures must be passed in two more Knesset readings to become law.

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