United Torah Judaism lawmaker Rabbi Meir Porush rescinded on Sunday his resignation as Minister of Jerusalem and Israel Tradition after receiving expanded authority to oversee the annual Lag B’Omer pilgrimage on Mt. Meron.
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, Porush said he could not carry out his responsibilities because of clashes with the Religious Affairs Ministry and the National Center for the Development of Holy Sites, which also have roles in organizing events.
The yearly event draws around 100,000 people.
The battle over authority at Meron stems from a stampede during the 2021 pilgrimage in which 45 people were killed and another 150 injured, making it Israel’s worst civilian disaster. An investigation found overcrowding on a faulty walkway. An inquiry recommended that overall responsibility for administering the event be given to a ministerial-level authority.
According to Porush’s letter, decisions were being made without his consultation while one of his appointees was sidelined from decision-making. Porush’s lack of authority contradicted United Torah Judaism’s coalition agreement with Likud.
Families of the stampede victims called on Netanyahu to reverse Porush’s resignation.
Porush on Sunday thanked Netanyahu for resolving the impasse.
Mt. Meron, located in the Upper Galilee, is the burial place of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second century sage whose works continue to serve as the foundation of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. Celebrations are marked with bonfires.
Lag B’Omer this year falls on the night of May 8, 2023.