With just three weeks to go until the hilula (yahrtzeit) of the Baba Sali ztz"l on the fourth day of the Hebrew month of Shevat (which this year falls on January 5 to 6), security issues at the sage's gravesite have yet to be resolved, leading to concern that customary events held on that day will be canceled.
Following the tragedy that occurred in Meron last Lag b'Omer, when 45 people were killed in a horrendous crush as thousands of people attempted to leave the bonfire enclosure via the sole exit left open, many have expressed concern about similar mass events. Previous events surrounding the Yom Hilula of the Babi Sali have attracted close to 50,000 people.
Netivot Mayor Yehiel Zohar has insisted that the city, where the Babi Sali is buried, will not take responsibility for the event.
“In these circumstances, without a state budget to fund the celebration, the Netivot municipality cannot shoulder the financial burden of organizing the event,” Zohar said.