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Dec 15, 2021

Meron to close, maybe

The "Vaadat Chachamisha", the Committee of Five, that runs the complex of Kever Rashbi in Meron recently announced that as of this Thursday the complex will be shut down. They are having a problem finding insurance to cover the site, ever since the tragedy this past lag B'Omer in which 45 pilgrims died. Without insurance on the site, they are not willing to keep it open to visitors with the risk falling all on them. If, God forbid, something should happen and some would get hurt there, they could be sued without insurance.

I dont know why this Thursday and not until now, but I would guess that this Thursday the current policy expires and no insurance company will renew or take it on.

We recently went up to visit the site in Meron, so if it shuts down, at least I know we got in before the bell.

Since they made the announcement, Hamechadesh is reporting that a group of "gvirim" from Satmar have met to discuss this situation and have decided to approach American based insurance companies to look for coverage. They are offering insurance companies to be guarantors on the coverage should anything happen. The Vaadat Hachamisha is open to considering this, should a formal offer of a policy be made. Additionally, this gives them, somehow, a point of pressure to hold on the government and on local insurance companies to maybe get a local offer.

I am not sure why this adds pressure. If I were a local insurance company refusing to give a policy I would be happy that someone else took responsibility for it. Additionally, in today's day and age I dont see why it should matter where the insurance company is based. Anyways the Israeli companies are probably really just agents of sorts for global insurance companies providing the actual coverage. Either way, it is good they might be able to find a policy.

That being said, this type of arrangement sounds like a scam. I wonder if any real insurance company will fall for it, or if they will at least get maximum legal protection. Anyone who slips down the stairs or trips and hurts himself and decides to sue will get paid by these Satmar chassidim? I cannot believe any real insurance company would work on such an arrangement with coverage being guaranteed privately. Perhaps this would work better if these gvirim would set up their own insurance company and provide the coverage directly.

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  1. Does this mean that "Vaadat Chachamisha" are officially considered responsible for Kever Rashbi, and the insurance is in their name (or the name of some organization that represents them).

    I thought that one of the big issues that came out after the tragedy on Lag B'Omer was that there was no Ba'al Habayit responsible for the site, instead it was a mishmash of different organizations with no coordination between them. If there is a signature on an insurance policy, surely that person, or people are responsible (and were responsible last lag B'Omer)

    As an aside, I was there a few weeks ago for the first time in about 20 years. I was very upset to see graffiti and massive posters all over the site blaming the "Tzionim" and the Police for deliberately murdering the Kedoshim last Lag B'Omer - looks like whoever was responsible for the tragedy (and there were many people partially responsible) have no problem passing the blame onto someone else

  2. I was there just a couple of weeks ago (first time in a long time as well). the entire area of the tragedy was sealed off. I didnt notice the graffiti and signs you mention. Maybe they cleaned it up or maybe I just didnt see it.

    the vaada hachima is definitely responsible for the Meron site in general. I have no idea who is normally signed on the insurance policy. The mishmash and debate over responsibility is specifically regarding the Lag BaOmer events because they cannot handle such a large event themselves and the State gets involved. Normally the Vaada Hachmisha runs the show up there

  3. So the government responded by saying that if the Vaad Chamisha can't keep the place open, the government will simply take it over entirely.

    Apparently that shocked the Vaad out of whatever stupor they were in and they promised they'd keep the place open, somehow, while at the same time threating the State that they will be fully responsible if anything happens. Great. So let the State take it over, already.

    The funniest/saddest part was the statement of Friend, of the Vaad, that "it is important to note that the Committee of Five runs the site in the best way possible."

    Yeah, well, forty-five dead people would suggest otherwise.

  4. Whatever happened to their investigation about how and why this tragedy happened?

    1. it is still ongoing. they just made some interim recommendations, including setting the Minister of Religious Affairs as being in charge of the Lag B'Omer event


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