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September 1, 2022 10:41 am
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Lapid Speaks With Zelensky, Warns Against Travel to Ukrainian City of Uman Ahead of Jewish New Year

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

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’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid Thursday held his first conversation with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday since taking office in June. The two leaders discussed the war in Ukraine and Lapid “expressed his condolences for those killed and injured in the war, and called for reaching a diplomatic solution in order to end the fighting,” a statement from Lapid’s office read.

“I count on his country’s accession to the sanctions on Russia and provision of practical assistance to Ukraine in countering the aggression of the Russian Federation,” Zelensky tweeted after the call with Lapid.

Lapid on Thursday also warned citizens about traveling to the Ukrainian city of Uman, ahead of the annual pilgrimage to the tomb site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov during September’s Jewish New Year celebration.

Lapid referred to “life-threatening danger posed by entering the area of fighting,” between Russia and Ukraine.

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The tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the revered founder of the Breslover Hasidim each year attracts thousands of worshipers from Israel, the US and other countries during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Lapid’s call comes after Israel’s foreign ministry stepped up its travel warning on Thursday calling Israeli citizens to refrain from reaching Ukrainian territory, including Uman and its environs due to ongoing war between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

“A few days ago, missiles were fired into the area of the city of Uman, which led to the death of one civilian, injuring several others and causing great damage,” the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier this week more than 100 Jewish pilgrims reportedly arrived in the city.

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.

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.”

Israel has reiterated its pledge for all citizens to immediately leave the country’s borders.

“The volatile security situation, including the danger of aerial bombardments or rocket fire at civilian communities and areas, including in the center and west of the country, poses a real and immediate threat to life,” the ministry’s statement read.

Meanwhile, the Israeli embassy in Kyiv does currently not have a “continuous” presence in Ukraine and will not be able to provide full consular services, which will make it “very difficult” to provide assistance to citizens in case of emergency situations, the ministry cautioned.

Early last month, a Russian missile attack on Uman left two people wounded and badly damaged local infrastructure. In response, 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 attacks by Russia would happen in the month of Tishrei, they could cause, God forbid, many fatalities among the Jews visiting Uman from around the world,” Korniychuk said.

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