The long and winding road to Meron this year has apparently taken a turn for the better, as police officials have acquiesced to demands from chareidi representatives to modify their plans for public transportation on Lag BaOmer.
Following a stormy Knesset session and intensive meetings over the police’s announced intention to ban private buses from the Meron site — which would cause unnecessary hardship to thousands of visitors and discourage many from attending — they agreed to allow private buses in, providing traffic isn’t overly congested.
Minister of Internal Security Yitzchak Aharanovitch announced, “I have given instructions to the police that all public transportation, including private buses, should be allowed to arrive at the entrance to Meron. Only in the event that traffic congestion requires it will the buses be rerouted to parking places” further away.
“I will also be there,” he said.
That commitment came only after it came to light that a senior officer had told Egged that the police had no intention of letting private buses to the site itself, even if traffic permitted. That disclosure—which meant reneging on an earlier, hard-won promise—led to a confrontation in the Knesset between United Torah Judaism MKs Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Mozes and Rabbi Yisrael Eichler with Aharanovitch, as the MKs brandished a copy of Hamodia (Hebrew) quoting the officer directly. A feverish series of telephone calls followed, and the result was Aharanovitch’s statement above.
Even so, the police made no firm commitment to allow private buses to reach Meron, only that they would do so if, in their view when the time comes, conditions permit.
“The public should not be frightened into staying away from Meron,” Rabbi Mozes declared. “I call on them not to worry, but to come!”
He mentioned that he has been involved in the annual trek to the kever of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai for some ten years, and that the improvements in conditions there, the roads, lighting, and so on, are such that the site is not recognizable from what it once was.
“It warms the heart to see how much has been invested, and all for the purpose of enabling the many thousands to come and daven at Meron.”
Rabbi Mozes acknowledged that after the chaos that prevailed last year, everyone is concerned that the situation not be repeated. However, he urged the public to be calm and not let this deter them from coming.
Meanwhile, thousands of people were arriving on Thursday and Friday to spend Shabbos in Meron and cities in the north, preparatory to traveling to Meron on Motzoei Shabbos.