Knesset passes law canceling this year’s Lag B’Omer pilgrimage in Meron

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Ultra orthodox Jews attend Lag Baomer celebrations, in Meron on May 18, 2022.  (David Cohen/Flash90)
Ultra orthodox Jews attend Lag Baomer celebrations, in Meron on May 18, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Knesset passes a law that makes it illegal to hold the annual Lag B’Omer celebrations in Meron in the Galilee this year, an event that normally attracts more than 100,000 revelers and is considered the world’s largest pilgrimage by Jews.

The law, based on a bill defined as a temporary measure in connection with rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah on northern Israel, limits the presence of people at the Meron compound to 30 at any given time.

The law permits three bonfires, one on the mountain at the gravesite of second-century rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, with participation capped at 10 approved guests, and two more at the nearby Bnei Akiva yeshiva.

“One needs to understand what led us to this situation,” Meir Porush, minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Jewish Heritage of the United Torah Judaism party, says in the lead-up to the vote. “Unlimited access would mean tens of thousands of people arriving and a terrible catastrophe could happen if the place is targeted with rockets. We mustn’t take such risks with human lives.”

He adds: “I am weeping in pain for the people of Meron, for whom not going to the place on Lag B’Omer in unimaginable.”

Separately, the government cancels a commemorative event planned to take place in Jerusalem on Lag B’Omer, which this year falls on May 26, in memory of the 45 fatalities of a 2021 stampede at the Meron compound. That event, which was supposed to be for the families of the deceased, is also canceled due to the security situation.

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