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August 30, 2022 11:36 am
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Despite Threat of Russian Strikes, Hasidic Pilgrims Arrive in Ukrainian City of Uman

avatar by Ben Cohen

Orthodox Jews outside the tomb of Rabbi Nachman in Uman, Ukraine. Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

More than 100 Jewish pilgrims are reported to have arrived in the Ukrainian city of Uman, ahead of September’s Jewish New Year celebrations at the tomb of of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the revered founder of the Breslover Hasidim.

A Ukrainian security source told the Obozrevatel news outlet on Tuesday that the pilgrims had arrived despite warnings from the Ukrainian security services of the likelihood of Russian strikes against the city during the festive period. Uman was once home to a thriving Jewish community that was decimated during the Nazi Holocaust. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, several Orthodox families have moved to the city, mainly concentrated around the Rabbi’s tomb, which attracts thousands of worshipers from Israel, the US and other countries during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In 2021, nearly 30,000 Hasidic pilgrims celebrated the holiday in Uman.

Ihor Taburets, the chair of the regional military administration in Cherkasy, confirmed that security measures in Uman would be stepped up with the arrival of the pilgrims. A ban on mass events is in place from Sept. 19-30 and access to the holy sites in Uman will be restricted as well; Rosh Hashana itself falls on Sept.24-25. Taburets said these decisions had been taken because of the “high probability of missile strikes and a terrorist threat as a result of the actions of the Russian side aimed at destabilizing international relations and harming the international image of Ukraine.”

A Russian missile attack on Uman was launched as recently as Aug. 8, leaving two people wounded and badly damaging local infrastructure. On the same day, Yevhen Korniychuk, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel, expressed concern that the impact would be even worse in the event of an attack during the Jewish holidays.

“If such strikes by Russia had taken place in the month of Tishrei, they could have resulted, God forbid, in numerous casualties among Jews who visit Uman from all over the world,” Korniychuk said.

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