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May 6, 2020 1:48 pm

Israeli Government Set to Approve Coronavirus Restrictions on Lag BaOmer Celebrations

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Haredi Jews watch the lighting of a bonfire in Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, for Lag BaOmer, May 13, 2017. Photo: Yaakov Lederman / Flash90.

The Israeli government is set to impose significant restrictions on celebrations of the upcoming holiday of Lag BaOmer due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Walla news site reported on Wednesday.

The holiday — which celebrates the life of 2nd-century Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai — begins next Monday and is usually marked with communal bonfires and, for religious Jews, a pilgrimage to Mount Meron in the Galilee.

The Mount Meron pilgrimage is one of the largest annual events held in Israel, with up to 500,000 people attending each year.

Both the bonfires and the pilgrimage are set to be banned to prevent the spread of the pandemic through large public gatherings.

However, special permits may be given for specific bonfires, including outside the tomb of bar Yochai on Mount Meron.

The government reportedly considered a total lockdown for the holiday, like those imposed during Passover, Memorial Day and Independence Day, but this was rejected due to opposition from Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

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