Ukraine to allow thousands Jewish pilgrims into Uman for High Holidays

Health officials stress that permission for religious pilgrims to enter Ukraine is subject to pandemic-related restrictions.

By Israel Hayom via JNS.org

Ukraine’s deputy health minister, Dr. Ihor Kuzin, said on Monday that his country would work to ease restrictions on the annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the city of Uman, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

According to Kuzin, a special directive allowing religious pilgrims to enter the country under certain pandemic-related restrictions has been approved and will also apply to Chassidic Jews visiting Uman.

“The directive consists of basic steps for the prevention of pandemics, such as the requirement to wear protective masks, checking body temperature, and oversight of the public transportation used by pilgrims. Additionally, border crossing protocols are well-defined now and the instructions are clear and unequivocal,” said Kuzin.

Informational pamphlets were ready for distribution at the country’s airports and volunteers from Ukraine and Israel have been recruited to facilitate expeditious testing of Chassidic visitors, he added.

Some 50,000 rapid coronavirus testing kits have been allocated by the ministry for those arriving in Uman from Israel, and some 190,000 protective masks and 19,000 hand sanitizer bottles have already been purchased to protect the attendees, he said.

Normally, around 30,000 or more pilgrims flock to the grave of the Chassidic master for the two-day holiday.

Last year, hundreds of Hasidic pilgrims  were stranded along the Ukraine-Belarus border while unsuccessfully trying to reach Uman. Ukrainian officials closed the border because of the Covid pandemic.

World Israel News staff contributed to this report.