'Worshipers were threatened with stabbing'

In letter, MK Eliezer Moses describes intolerable violent atmosphere caused by bands of thugs at site of Rabbi's grave in Meron.

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Haim Lev,

Tomb of Shimon bar Yochai at Meron
Tomb of Shimon bar Yochai at Meron
Jonathan Stein

MK Eliezer Menachem Moses (United Torah Judaism) sent a letter to Religious Services Minister David Azulai (Shas) describing a violent atmosphere in the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (a sage of Tannaitic times known by his acronym Rashbi) in the Galilee mountain town of Meron.

"Every Shabbat, people who have come to pray at Rashbi's grave are subjected to serious deed of violent bullying, and there's no one to turn to! There's no one in charge there, no one to keep the public order!" wrote Moses to Azulai.

In the letter, MK Moses describes the events that occurred last Saturday at the Shabbat prayers in Meron.

"During the morning prayers, some people walked into one of the synagogues and started acting in a very violent manner that scared the worshipers. They cursed, yelled, pushed, physically assaulted people, and threatened to stab them with a knife. The worshipers fled with their Torah scroll from one synagogue room to the other, with these thugs pursuing them. The thugs continued pushing and shoving and even threatened a hassidic Rabbi who was there. This behavior continued throughout Shabbat."

Moses wrote that the events of the last Shabbat are typical of repeated incidents of this type that happen every week at Rashbi's grave. "One week, bullies came up from the Meron river area, stole all the milk and cakes that were donated for the visiting public, and took them for themselves into the forests.

"As is known, the site is crowded, thousands of visitors arrive weekly to stay in the town and pray at Rashbi's grave. All these people are subjected to these acts of violence, and there's no one to turn to! Incident follows incident and complaints are piled upon older complaints while nothing is done," he continued, also noting that the site suffers frequent technical issues with air-conditioning and electricity often failing.

MK Moses ended his letter with an urgent call to action: "I beseech you, as the Minister in authority over the site, to act immediately and appoint someone to be in charge of the site in order to deal with whatever problems may arise, whether in terms of maintenance of in terms of the security of the visitors and worshipers, and as soon as possible."