Ultra-Orthodox Jewish pilgrims celebrate Rosh Hashanah holiday, the Jewish New Year, near the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the town of Uman, Ukraine September 20, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel has been making covert efforts to bring the remains of the venerated late Rebbe Nahman from Uman, Ukraine, to Israel.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely instructed Ambassador to Ukraine Eliav Belotzercovsky to raise the issue with the appropriate officials in Kiev half a year ago, Hotovely’s spokeswoman, Lena Bakman, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
The efforts are ongoing, but thus far they have been in vain, she said.
“In the past, the issue was broached with us, and we agree that it is the right thing to do,” Bakman said, adding that the ambassador will continue with the effort.
Rebbe Nahman, founder of the Breslov Hassidim, was born in the city of Medzhybizh in 1772 and died in Uman in 1810. Since then, Uman has become a mecca for Breslovers, the name by which his followers are known. Some 150,000 people visit Rebbe Nahman’s grave every year, making it an important tourism site for Ukraine.
Rabbi Aryeh Lippo, a member of the Breslov Hassidim involved in the efforts, told Army Radio: “It’s illogical that half of Israel leaves the country every Rosh Hashana.” Thousands of Israelis visit the rabbi’s grave on Rosh Hashana.
Ukrainian Jewish Committee director Eduard Dolinsky told the Post
he doubted Kiev would agree to relocate the grave.
“It’s a kind of national treasure, bringing millions of dollars every year to the state and city budgets as well as to Uman inhabitants,” he said.
Dolinsky noted, however, that some nationalistic groups, such as the Freedom Party, do support the move, “because of chaos caused by the pilgrimage and general antisemitic views.”
Around the time of the annual pilgrimage, there are often cases of antisemitism in Uman.
Last year, Rebbe Nachman’s grave was desecrated with a pig’s head, and red paint was splattered on it