Police identify body of Israeli who drowned in Uman

Eli Eliah was on pilgrimage to Rabbi Nachman's grave; disappeared during tashlich ceremony in river; 32,000 made pilgrimage to Ukraine.

October 2, 2011 10:14
1 minute read.
ZAKA volunteers evacuate drowning victim in Uman

Zaka volunteers Uman 311. (photo credit: Courtesy ZAKA)

The Israeli who drowned in Uman, Ukraine, on Rosh Hashana is Eli Eliah, a 19-year-old yeshiva student from Netanya, authorities announced on Sunday.

Eliah drowned last Thursday while taking part in a tashlich ceremony, a traditional Rosh Hashana prayer recited near a body of water, in the river that runs through the town where Rabbi Nachman of Breslov is buried.

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“He was in the water with his brother when he disappeared,” said Moti Bokjin, a spokesman for the emergency group Zaka.

“Our volunteers ran there and searched for him for 45 minutes. An ex-Israel Navy commando found him at a depth of 10 meters but it was too late. Resuscitation efforts failed and we had to declare his death.”

The body was held in a refrigerating van over Shabbat until it could be taken to Kiev en route to Israel.

About 32,000 worshipers arrived in the Ukrainian town to spend the Jewish new year by the gravesite of the famous sage, a record number.

Bokjin said no violent incidents took place, unlike the previous year when several riots occurred and one Israeli was stabbed to death.

“There was full cooperation with local authorities,” he said. “There was a small group of locals who tried to stir up a fuss but they were immediately arrested.”

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