Will Jewish Pilgrims Overcome Anti-Semitism in Ukraine?

Will Jewish Pilgrims Overcome Anti-Semitism in Ukraine?

Record Number of 40,000 Jews Will Be on Uman Pilgrimage
By מינוזיג – MINOZIG (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Historic Numbers Visit Holy Site.

The local Ukrainian Government in Uman is bracing to manage the well frequented pilgrimage by thousands of Jews[/tweetit]. They will congregate in the city for Rosh Hashanah. The local administration expects about 40,000 devout Jews to show up ahead of Jewish New Year on September 20. The previous years have witnessed turnouts anywhere between 25,000 visitors to about 30,000 visitors.
Will Jewish Pilgrims Overcome Anti-Semitism in Ukraine?[/tweetthis]
Many Jews follow Rabbi Nachman, an 18th century figure whose gravesite remains the prime attraction. The Ukrainian rescue forces have made all necessary arrangements so that they can provide an effective response to any emergency. Mock exercises are already carried out at principal congregation points so that any response will be swift and efficient.

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav (born April 4, 1772, died October 16, 1810) was a famous tzadik. He spent about two years in the town of Uman. He was settled in the city. Prior to his death in Uman, he said, “the souls of the martyrs (slaughtered by Gonta) await me.” After his death, his grave became the pilgrimage site for all Bratslav Hasidim, wherever they may be in the world.

The Ukrainian Government has made the infrastructure much better in recent years. Access to Uman is now remarkably improved. There are plans underway for recommissioning a retired military airport. This airfield is located near city for undertaking direct flights to Kiev and from Kiev. The city of Uman is found in the central part of the country. Kiev is 150 miles away. The other notable Ukrainian city of Odessa is located 200 miles distant.

The far-right has enjoyed a resurgence in Ukraine in recent times. This has regrettably coincided with the rise in popularity of the pilgrimage. The town of Uman itself has witnessed a number of far-right marches against the Jewish presence in the urban settlement. In 2016, an Uman synagogue was spattered with red paint. A pig's head was placed beside it to desecrate the holy site. A swastika had been carved into the dead animal's head. The synagogue was part of Ohel complex constructed near the Rabbi Nachman gravesite.

It is now a common sight to see street fights erupting between locals and visitors. A number of local media channels have reported that a few pilgrims have engaged in disorderly conduct and provocative behavior. Most of these pilgrims are foreigners.


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