Rabbi: Violence against Jews visiting Ukraine spiraling ‘out of control’

A rabbi says Jews arriving to visit the grave of the founder of Breslov hasidism are being beaten in Ukraine.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Violence against Jews visiting the town of Uman, Ukraine is spiraling “out of control,” Rabbi Shalom Arush, head of the Hut Shel Hesed organization, told an Israeli radio station on Monday.

Breslov hasidim visiting Uman on the Jewish New Year to dance and sing around the grave of Rabbi Nachman, the founder of the sect, is a regular occurrence. But this year they’ve been urged not to visit by both Israeli and Ukrainian officials due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Ukraine said it would close off entry to non-citizens from September 1 to September 28, a period which coincides with the Jewish holidays.

But Breslov Jews have been adamant about visiting the city, protesting in Jerusalem opposite the prime minister’s office and promising to find a way to Uman one way or the other.

The fear of disease has caused the Ukrainians in Uman to be less than welcoming to Jews who decided to come early to beat the ban.

“Things have gotten out of control,” Rabbi Arush said. “Right now Uman is closed off, but those Jews who somehow manage to get there are getting beaten by Ukrainian locals who claim that the Jewish visitors are spreading disease.”

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Eduard Dolinsky, director general of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, reposted a video showing a rough greeting that Breslov Jews received upon arriving in Uman. Though the video does not show Jews being beaten, the Ukrainians gathered around are less than welcoming.

Dolinsky noted that the video was originally posted by Sergiy Alekseev, deputy of the Uman City Council from the Svoboda party. Svoboda is a far-right party.