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  • DRAMATIC STEP: Meron Site Will Close On Thursday, Administrators Announce

    From this coming Thursday the directors of the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi) in Meron will be closing the site to visitors, since no insurer is currently willingly to provide insurance for potential damages to visitors, according to a Ynet report • Full Story

    Yeshiva World News

    The members of the Va’ad HaChamisha (Committee of Five), which oversees Kever Rav Shimon Bar Yochai, intend to close the compound to visitors on Thursday in the wake of an insurance crisis that places the committee members at risk of personal liability suits, Ynet reported on Monday morning.

    One of the many consequences of the Meron disaster was that no insurance companies will agree to continue securing the site. That means that if one of the thousands of daily visitors at the site is injured, the members of the Va’adas HaChamisha are at risk of being sued for damages.

    The committee’s members held a meeting with Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana on the issue and he instructed the relevant professionals to find a solution but no progress has yet been made on the matter. Therefore the members of the Va’adas HaChamisha, which oversees the site, made a decision to remove itself from responsibility of the site and will close the compound beginning on Thursday (Wednesday night at midnight).

    Eli Friend, the director of Kever Rashbi, sent a letter on Sunday to Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, informing him of the committee’s decision.

    He noted in the letter that the Va’ad HaChamisha is responsible for the management of the Meron site the entire year except for the day of Lag B’Omer, when the state of Israel is responsible for the site [since Va’ad HaChamisha is not equipped to oversee such a large event].

    “Prior to the tragedy, the Va’adas HaChamisha was continuously insured throughout all the years without any issues,” Friend wrote. “An absurd situation has developed that due to an event that happened on the day that the State is responsible for the site, the Va’adas HaChamisha is paying the price and today most of its members (except for the committee chairman who is an employee of the State) are vulnerable to personal injury lawsuits in the case of someone being injured at the site, chas v’chalilah.”

    “You are aware that Va’adas HaChamisha has and is engaging in multiple efforts to find a solution to the problematic situation that has developed. Likewise, a meeting was held in your office ten days ago, during which you instructed all relevant professionals to find an immediate solution to the insurance issue, but the problem has not yet been solved.”

    “In light of the situation, we are hereby informing you that if no solution is found in the form of an indemnity or an insurance policy for the Va’adas HaChamisha, the committee will be forced to announce the closure of Kever Rashbi beginning on Wednesday, Yud Aleph Teves, at midnight.”

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