Meron 2023: Many Questions, Few Answers, as Hillula Looms
by YS Gold
54 days remain to the holy hillula of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai, and no one knows how this year’s celebration will turn out.
Less than two months remain until the second yohrtzeit of the Meron victims and the horrific events of Lag Ba’Omer 2021. The following year, the Israeli government took over the operations—and the outcome was an indisputable, unmitigated disaster.
This year, the preparations are being overseen by former deputy mayor of Yerushalayim, Yossi Deitch, under the auspices of MK Meir Porush. He has been meeting with officials from numerous government agencies, most notably the transportation authority.
Among the resolutions are the uninhibited access to Mount Meron, and there will be no interim stops where passengers will be forced to wait until being allowed onto the mountain. Instead, there will be a massive effort to shuttle passengers to and from Meron in the most efficient possible manner, while there will be an enormous respite area with refreshments at Elyakim Junction.
MK Porush said in a statement that “this year, the site will be open to everyone without exception. Our office is making enormous efforts to ensure that the event will be safe, and we are pouring in many resources in order to ensure that visitors can arrive and leave without impediment. Rabi Shimon is deserving that we should do the necessary efforts in his honor.”
Additional proposed changes to this year’s program include allowing more spaces to celebrate the hillula, including the reopening of the Bnei Akiva campus, allowing multiple hadlaka’s, the widening of the ramp serving kohanim, allowing Chai Rottel food and drink, and a number of other changes that, if they prove to materialize, will be welcomed by visitors to Rabi Shimon.