The Mount Meron disaster took the entire country by surprise. In decades of Lag Ba’omer celebrations at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, hundreds had been injured every year due to overcrowding, yet life went on as usual.
Danger threatened year after year, but instead of rooting it out, the response was limited to specific changes to deficiencies that had been identified. When professionals and others warned of a potential disaster, their concerns were dismissed by Haredi elected officials and operatives who wouldn’t hear of anyone ruining their celebration. The Lag Ba’omer events on Mount Meron attracted leading Hasidic rabbis and other figures, who were given coveted VIP access.