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August 18, 2020 1:28 pm

Israel and Ukraine Urge Pilgrims Not to Make Annual Trip to Tomb of Revered Hasidic Rabbi

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Jewish pilgrims pray at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, in the city of Uman, Ukraine, Sept. 20, 2017. Photo: Reuters /  Valentyn Ogirenko.

Israel and Ukraine issued a joint statement on Tuesday effectively canceling the annual pilgrimage to the tomb of a venerated Hasidic rabbi due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov is located in the central Ukrainian city of Uman, and is the object of a Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage attended by thousands of Hasidic and other religious Jews, as well as some secular participants.

The statement read, “Following the recommendations and warnings of the Ministries of Health of Ukraine and Israel, we urge all pilgrims who have planned or are planning to take part in this year’s Rosh Hashanah celebrations in Ukraine to refrain from visiting the city of Uman due to the threatening epidemiological situation.”

“However, to those who decide to visit Uman, we would like to stress that current restrictions are applied to all public events during quarantine and will be strictly enforced,” the statement added.

“We hope for understanding and sincerely believe that next year we will be able to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and other holidays together without any restrictions,” it concluded.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry had already announced that pilgrims would be prevented from visiting Uman for Rosh Hashanah due to fears of sparking a coronavirus outbreak. If necessary, it said, a lockdown on the city would be imposed.

The mayor of Uman endorsed a ban on Monday, saying, “We predict that the second wave [of the coronavirus] will occur exactly in mid-September, which is why I am against thousands of people visiting the city.”

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