Meron

Meron: Tragic, Horrifying… and Preventable

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I am very reluctant to speak about what happened in Meron just a few weeks ago. I wasn’t there. I didn’t lose anyone in the tragic disaster that occurred.

But I have so many thoughts swimming around in my head, and I just want to get some of them off my chest.

Israel: Must Do At Least Once

Meron

There is a short list in my mind of things in Israel everyone should do once. These are things that aren’t necessarily fun or good or able to be appreciated by all people. But they are cultural phenomena. They are events that should be experienced sometimes, not enjoyed yearly. But it’s a shame if you never experience it.

For the longest time, the item right at the top of that list for me was visiting Meron on Lag B’omer. Hundreds of thousands of spirited Jews pouring into this small city for a wild festival with song and bonfires. With nothing but excitement and merriment.

I had dreamt of taking my son with me, not because either of us like crowds or events like this, but because it felt like a right of passage. But I never made it happen.

I used to be upset at myself. I’m sure every year I had an excuse. Yet now I couldn’t be happier that we were quite far from Meron this past Lag B’omer. And I think we’ll be safely far from there for years to come.

My Meron Experience

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Myself, I’ve been to Meron twice on that glorious day.

The first time one of my teachers took me there. He thought it was something I just had to witness.

The crowds were like nothing I’d ever experienced before. There was a point where I literally felt like my arm was going to be ripped off, as one crowd was pushing me in one direction and another seemed to be yanking at my arm. Ultimately I lost my teacher in the crowd and never found him again. Not only that, there were hundreds upon hundreds of buses, and I couldn’t find the one that brought me to Meron.

So I ended up hitching a ride back home on a bus with a bunch of perfect strangers.

The experience was… memorable.

But I cannot in good conscience say it was positive.

I am glad I went. I wanted to see what it was like. But for the most part, I would prefer to stick with far smaller crowds and to have a bit more control of my surroundings.

The Invincibility of Crowds

Meron

It’s so easy to be in a place like that and feel almost a hint of invincibility. I’m sure among the thousands upon thousands of people in Meron, few felt unsafe. Few felt like something tragic would happen. After all, this is by no means the first time so many people gathered in the area. This is a yearly event. What could possibly go wrong?

The answer?

Everything.

I have no interest in pointing fingers here. People’s lives were lost. Others were injured. Scores of families are mourning their losses. Who am I to claim any understanding of such tragic events? Or for that matter, anything at all?

An Unchecked Community

But I’m furious at an entire community, a community that has gone unchecked for way too long. I used to live within the community, and had nothing but respect and fondness for the people I met and the experiences I had.

And I defended the community’s right to not participate in Israel’s military, which I know is not a very popular opinion at all.

But enough’s enough!

As Israel likely heads toward fifth elections, I point a lot of fingers at the religious parties, who put a stranglehold on the country’s political system, all for their own gain. With zero interest in helping the population at large or doing what’s best for their fellow citizens.

Protests, Covid, and Zero Authority

Meron

And I still can’t help but be haunted by the disruptive and inane protests of a few years ago, where they completely upturned Jerusalem’s transportation system. More than once, my son had to walk home from the bus station for over an hour because some idiots thought this is how real change is made. They actually thought they were making a difference. No! What they were doing was creating chaos, pouring gasoline on already hot flames, and transforming would-be supporters into skeptical adversaries.

And what the community did during the height of the Covid pandemic is nothing short of criminal. They behaved as if actions do not have consequences, and endangered the lives of millions of people.

They routinely ignore authority, if that authority is not God or a leader from within their own community. And this continued lack of respect for the rest of the world they live amongst has caused untold damage to way too many people.

What the community did during the height of the Covid pandemic is nothing short of criminal. They behaved as if actions do not have consequences, and endangered the lives of millions of people. Click To Tweet

Horrified… but Not Surprised

Meron

I was horrified by what happened in Meron just a few weeks ago.

But I was not surprised.

Who could imagine tragedy happening when hundreds of thousands of aggressive people pile into a very small area, without a care in the world for safety or protocol?

Who? Any thinking adult, that’s who.

They think God will protect them. Why? Because they’re celebrating a minor Jewish holiday. Because they rigorously observe a bunch of rules. Because they spend their time immersed in Torah study.

But that’s not how the world works. And I seriously doubt that a loving, caring God could be pleased with people who behave like this. How could he be pleased with those who disrupt traffic, ruining peoples’ days? How can he find favor in those who ignore safety warnings and further perpetuate the spread of a deadly disease?

And how could one assume he’s watching over crowds of people who shouted at female police officers who came to help the victims of the Meron disaster… because, well, they’re female?

Meron Could Have Been Prevented

No, I’m not saying the incident was a divine punishment. I would never say that about anything. I think saying such things is idiotic speculation at best. Inflammatory rhetoric at worst.

I’m just saying, this didn’t have to happen.

People didn’t have to bury their children.

This all could have been prevented.

And yes, there are people in this world who should be introspective and seeking to change themselves because of what has happened.

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