Jerusalem’s chief rabbi criticizes pilgrimages to Uman on Rosh Hashana

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern on Monday strongly criticized the annual pilgrimage of tens of thousands of Israeli Jews to the Ukrainian city of Uman for Rosh Hashana.

August 21, 2017 18:44
1 minute read.

Men gesticulate on the banks of a lake in Uman in September 2010.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Every year, thousands of Jews travel to Uman where the founder of the Breslov hassidic dynasty Rabbi Nachman of Breslov is buried, with some 30,000 visiting the site last year. Nachman is seen as a saintly figure for his spiritual and mystical teachings, and the mass pilgrimages to his grave have dramatically increased since the end of the Communist era and the opening up of Eastern Europe.

In a letter published on Monday, however, Stern observed that the current generation is uniquely privileged to live in the Land of Israel and to be able to visit all the holy sites in the country, including the Western Wall, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Mount Meron.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

“But, behold, I hear of a massive organization of journeys to the burial sites of the righteous in non-Jewish lands, and not just on a weekday and for a vacation, but on Rosh Hashana, as if there, in particular, our prayers will be strengthened on the Day of Judgment,” wrote Stern.

He added that despite claims that Nachman had said those who visit his grave on Rosh Hashana would be blessed, he was sure that the hassidic master did not mean those who were living in Israel.

“No one should even think that he meant to say that people living in the holy land, the Land of Israel, where there is more blessing than any other place in the world [should go to his grave],” said Stern.

“The Land of Israel is holier than any other land and there is no better place for prayer in any part of it, and especially at the burial places of the patriarchs and the holy sages of the Talmud, needless to mention the Western Wall.”

Stern is not the first prominent rabbi to criticize the mass exodus of religious Jews, principally but not only Breslov hassidim, to Uman for Rosh Hashana.

The late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of the most revered arbiters of Jewish law in recent times, said on more than one occasion that men should stay in Israel and celebrate Rosh Hashana with their wives and families.

Related Content

July 16, 2018
Netanyahu decries security cabinet leaks