Rabbi Nahman supporters in Ukraine 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
A 19-year-old Jerusalem man was stabbed to death in Uman, Ukraine late Saturday
night, during an altercation with local residents.
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The incident, which
was first reported in the haredi press, reportedly took place near the grave of
Rabbi Nahman of Breslov in the small Ukrainian town three hours south of Kiev,
on the exact date of the rabbi’s death 200 years ago.
initial reports, the victim, Shmuel Menachem Tubol of Jerusalem, chased a group
of locals who were throwing rocks at his family’s car, when one of them pulled a
knife and stabbed him in the chest.
The victim reportedly managed to
scream for help and his brother, who came to his assistance, was stabbed and
lightly wounded as well. Several news outlets stated that the three suspects
were all drunk at the time of the stabbing.
Later that night, two of the
three assailants came to a local hospital for treatment, where they were
The victim recently became engaged and his family is very
well-known among Jewish pilgrims to Uman.
Reports in the haredi press say
the murder is widely viewed as revenge for the stabbing of a local Ukrainian man
by an Israeli man during the Rosh Hashana pilgrimage.
The incident in
question took place on Rosh Hashana after a group of Jews cornered a man they
accused of stealing passports from pilgrims. A mob quickly formed and at some
point, an Israeli man pulled a knife and stabbed the man.
came they clashed with the mob, which formed a human shield to prevent the
arrest of the Israeli. Eventually, several pilgrims were taken into custody,
including the alleged stabber, who was immediately deported after a large bribe
was raised for local police, according to Israeli media reports.
stabbing death has received widespread coverage in the Ukrainian and Russian
media, and by Sunday afternoon, dozens of news outlets in both countries were
carrying stories about the killing.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry
in Jerusalem said Sunday that no travel warning has been issued for Ukraine
following the incident, and that the killing will not affect the ministry’s
policies towards Israeli travel to Uman.
ZAKA head Yehuda Meshi- Zehav
said Sunday evening that Israeli officials and Ukrainian authorities had reached
an agreement wherein only a “local” autopsy would be performed, to allow Tubol
to be returned to Israel for burial as soon as possible.
that by Sunday evening Tubol’s body had arrived in Kiev and would land in Israel
Earlier on Sunday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai
announced that he would work with Ukrainian authorities to prevent an autopsy
from being performed, saying “if it is necessary, I will fly to Uman to prevent
Both Yishai and Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi
contacted Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Ukrainian cabinet members Sunday to
assist with the effort to prevent the autopsy, following requests made by
Amitai, a Bnei Brak resident who was in Uman this year
for his seventh time, said he knew Tubol well, and that “all of his family was
well-known among people who went to Uman and he was a good kid.”
said that Tubol’s death was “scary and very sad,” but that it wouldn’t deter him
or others from traveling to Uman, saying that the pilgrims have strength in
numbers during the High Holy Days.
“On Rosh Hashana there are so many
people that it is much safer. In the middle of the year, it’s a different story.
Either way, this won’t prevent people from traveling to Uman for Rosh Hashana at
all. It won’t change anything,” he said.
Yaakov Zilberman, the head of
the ZAKA branch in Ukraine, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that ever since
the incident Saturday night the organization has been working with local police
and “doing whatever we can to prevent an autopsy and ensure that the body
returns to Israel for burial as soon as possible.”
Zilberman referred to
the stabbing of a Jewish pilgrim as a “very unusual” event for Uman, and added
that doctors were taken aback by the seriousness and precision of the victim’s
“I spoke to the doctors and they told me, listen, whoever did
this was an expert. The stab wound was very deep into the heart, which was cut
in half with a 5-centimeter hole in it.”