Lag Ba’omer: There will be no entry limit at Mount Meron

In 2020, coronavirus restrictions saw the mountain closed to prevent mass gatherings, with only three bonfires allowed.

Gathering at the Rashbi gravesite, Meron, June 6, 2020 (photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Gathering at the Rashbi gravesite, Meron, June 6, 2020
(photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) presented his plan for Lag Ba’omer to Public Security Minister Amir Ohana (Likud), in which he argued for a limitless capacity for the open-air annual celebration of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi) on Mount Meron. The plan was approved on Saturday night.
"The day of celebration in [Mount] Meron is a very important day for millions of people from across the religious spectrum," Deri said. "Not allowing people to pray on this day would really damage the public's trust."
Annually, the celebration of Rashbi's life and legacy attracts tens of thousands to the site near the northern town of Meron over the 24-hour period.
"Thank God, the [coronavirus] infection rate is low," he continued. "As such, there is no reason to cap the entry capacity."
This is a departure from 2020, where only 150 invitees were permitted to go onto the mountain. The government approved the lighting of three bonfires – one for Ashkenazi Jews, one for Sephardi Jews, and a third for Religious-Zionist Jews.
However, hundreds of haredim (ultra-Orthodox) stormed the holy site for the holiday, with video footage showing pilgrims breaking through one door and the lower window of another door in order to gain access to the tomb of the Talmudic-era sage. Police arrested 300 pilgrims.
Other haredi worshippers had also violated restrictions for the 2020 holiday, with mass gatherings held in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem's Mea She'arim.
However, with Israel's successful vaccination campaign causing cases to drop significantly, it seems there will be no need for strict capacity limits for the gatherings.
Jeremy Sharon and Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.