Photo Credit: David Cohen / Flash 90
Rabbi Moshe Ratta lighting a bonfire at the Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) gravesite in Meron ahead of Lag B’Omer, March 26, 2022.

Tens of thousands of Jews from Israel and around the world have gathered at the mystical mountain village of Meron to celebrate Lag B’Omer at the tomb of the second century Tannaic sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), who passed away on this date.

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This year’s celebration began, however, with the lighting of 45 memorial candles, and the calling out of the names linked to each — the 45 victims of last year’s disastrous stampede at the sacred site.

Following the tragedy, the broken, fragile infrastructure at the site was torn down, and new facilities were built.

“The Government of Israel has made a considerable investment in order to facilitate an extensive and safe participation,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement ahead of the holiday.

“I ask the public to act in accordance with the directives that have been published and to go only with a ticket so that we can have a safe celebration.

“This also applies to those celebrating around the country – follow the safety rules,” Bennett added.

Although 60,000 tickets were sold to those hoping to attend the celebrations on Meron, just 10,000 people were allowed to ascend the mountain at the start of the evening.

Crowds at the Tomb are being tightly controlled by police and other security personnel making intense efforts to avoid a repeat of last year’s horror.

As of 11 pm Wednesday night, things were going smoothly.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.