Thousands of Hasidic Jews attend annual pilgrimage to rabbi’s Ukrainian tomb [Article]

From the European Jewish Press:

UMAN (AFP)—Nearly 24,000 Hasidic Jews, most of them from Israel, attended the annual pilgrimage to the grave of a venerated 18th-century rabbi in central Ukraine Thursday, officials told AFP.    

Hundreds of men clad in typical black garb prayed, chanted and danced in the Uman neighbourhoods close to grave of Rebbe Nachman, a key figure in the Hasidic branch of Orthodox Judaism.  

"Celebrations are going on normally, no one is complaining, neither the pilgrims nor the locals," said Petro Payevsky, deputy mayor of this city about 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of the capital Kiev.  

Uman has become a permanent fixture in the Hasidim’s annual Jewish New Year celebrations since Nachman breathed new life into the Hasidic movement 200 years ago.

Nachman, who died in 1810, promised he would save those followers from Hell who came to his grave on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which this year started at sunset on Wednesday.

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The pilgrimage was illegal during the Soviet Union, but after Ukraine’s independence in 1991 the ban was lifted along with openings of Jewish schools and synagogues.

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