Meron Travelers to Hamodia: The Trip Took Many Long Hours; Smaller Crowd in Meron

A nearly empty tziyun is guarded by many police and security personnel, in Meron on Wednesday night. (David Cohen/Flash90)

“I travel to Meron nearly every year for Lag BaOmer,” said Reb Simcha S. to Hamodia early Thursday afternoon, “as well as several times during the year – but this has to be the longest it has ever taken for me to get here from Yerushalayim.

“I left on the 6 a.m. bus after Shacharis at neitz in Yerushalayim, and the drive was smooth, baruch Hashem. Driving time itself was under three hours – which is very good time, going by bus – but what took the extra time was endless stops, staying inside the bus.”

He describes: “Our bus stood for a long time in the parking lots, where this year, instead of allowing the distribution of food and drink, we had to stay inside the closed bus, even the elderly, women and children, for a long time until we were allowed to get out.

“Instead of moving forward, the system went backwards in the name of concern for public safety.

“Worse still, organizers this year are detaining travelers at not just one but several rest stops along the way and only allowing buses to proceed after a wait of several hours, allegedly to prevent overcrowding at the site, even though the number of tickets sold precludes the massive overcrowding seen in previous years.

A view of the crowd in Meron on Wednesday night. (David Cohen/Flash90)

“And in Meron itself, I would have thought that the crowds would be much larger, and perhaps that was the reason we waited for so long in the parking lots – but no, the crowds are considerably smaller and less than in previous years.”

On Wednesday night, those in control made a decision not to allow buses to go up to Meron until the end of the main lighting event, led by the Boyaner Rebbe, shlita, who, upon hearing about it, ordered the event to end early so as not to be “chav l’achrina” and allow more Jews to reach the tziyun of Rashbi.

When travelers finally do arrive, tired and exhausted from the hardships of the way to Meron, they encounter a host of additional difficulties, mainly around the entrance to tziyun, where large police forces prevent free entry and wait for the me’arah to be emptied inside, although mispallelim were promised to be able to have free access.

In addition, the music in Meron did not work most of the night. The singing and dancing began only long after the lighting ceremony was over, and ended early, without any explanation and contrary to custom – even though they had stated that the music would operate normally.

Thus, instead of securing the entry of mispallelim to Meron, people who spoke to Hamodia say that it seems that the goal is to prevent the crowds from arriving and not to allow them to participate safely in the events in Meron, when unnecessary clashes develop between the security forces at the entrance to the tziyun, instead of allowing safe and free passage.

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