Meron - Government Rebuilding Kohanim Pathway After Pressure From Hassidic Jews
Meron - Only three and a half months after demolishing a pathway for kohanim (priests) at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mount Meron, the government is rebuilding it at a high cost, despite the fact that the local rabbi believes it to be completely unnecessary.
The Tourism Ministry has apparently succumbed to pressure by an extremist Hassidic group, Toldot Avraham Yitzhak, and has allocated NIS 600,000 to quickly build the pathway before the annual Lag Ba’omer festivities at the site, expected to draw half a million participants.
The pathway was built last year without a permit - but with government funding - and was recently demolished after a legal battle. Now, hurried construction to rebuild it is being carried out without fulfilling conditions laid out by the local planning committee. Furthermore, many religious leaders, including Rabbi Meir Stern, the Meron Rabbi for the past 50 years, say there is absolutely no need for the pathway, and that there is no basis whatsoever to the Hassidic group’s claim that there are sepulchres on the main road leading to the tomb. If that was true, kohanim would be unable to use the main road, according to Jewish law, because they cannot be in close proximity to the dead.
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