American Jews suspected of vandalizing crucifix near hasidic rabbi's grave

The crucifix was placed by Ukranian locals near the grave of the 18th-century founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.

By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ/JTA
January 22, 2019 11:27
1 minute read.
American Jews suspected of vandalizing crucifix near hasidic rabbi's grave

Jewish children at the lake where thousands of pilgrams gather for Rosh Hasahan Tashlich prayers in Uman, Ukraine, September 2016.. (photo credit: BEN BRESKY)

 
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Two Jewish U.S. citizens have been detained in Ukraine on suspicion that they vandalized a large crucifix while inebriated, prosecutors said.

The incident, which occurred last month, is the latest in a series of hostilities in Uman, a pilgrimage site for Jews where friction with the local population often results in cycles of hate crimes.

The Prosecutor’s Office of the Uman Region in central Ukraine on Monday announced the detention of the men, ages 19 and 20, in connection with an act of vandalism that happened last week. In it, two men who appeared to be dressed like Orthodox Jews broke parts of a large crucifix that locals erected in 2013.

The crucifix stands overlooking a lake by the Jewish part of town where Jews frequently visit the grave of the 18th-century founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism. Since it was placed there, the crucifix has suffered multiple acts of vandalism.

Every year about 30,000 Jews gather in Uman for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah which includes the traditional Tashlich prayers at the lake.

The men were filmed vandalizing the crucifix by a security camera.

In 2016, a synagogue in Uman was broken into and sprayed with red paint. A pig’s head with a swastika carved into its forehead was left at the scene.

While many local Ukrainians welcome the visitors as a boon to the economy, incidents between locals and Jewish pilgrims have taken place.

When the cross was first erected in 2013, Rabbi Yaakov Bleich, chief rabbi of Ukraine, called it an act of “clear provocation,”

The Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to the article.



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