Hundreds of Breslov hassidim dance without masks in Uman

Some 2,000 pilgrims managed to enter the city where Rebbe Nachman is buried, before the Ukrainian authorities banned entry to the country from August 26 to September 28.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish pilgrims pray next to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov during the celebration of Rosh Hashanah holiday, amid the coronavirus outbreak in Uman, Ukraine, September 19, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish pilgrims pray next to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov during the celebration of Rosh Hashanah holiday, amid the coronavirus outbreak in Uman, Ukraine, September 19, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)
Hundreds of Breslov Hassidim crowded a large tent in Uman, Ukraine, at the end of the Rosh Hashanah to dance without wearing masks or adhering to social-distancing regulations.
Videos that have been shared on social media show them dancing while holding hands on Sunday night.
Some 2,000 pilgrims entered the country to pray by the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in Uman before the Ukrainian authorities banned entry from August 26 to September 28.
During the annual pilgrimage to Uman, as many as 50,000 Breslov Hassidim and other Jews from around the world visit the tomb in keeping with a tradition that began in 1811, the first anniversary of Rebbe Nachman’s death.
The Israeli government urged the Ukrainian authorities to prohibit the pilgrimage this year, fearing it would cause mass infections among pilgrims and the local population in overcrowded conditions.
Breslov leaders campaigned against the entry ban, encouraging the Israeli and Ukrainian governments to allow a limited number of some 6,000 hassidim into the site and providing a plan for abiding by COVID-19 social-distancing measures.
Despite this, no efforts to abide by such regulations were apparent in the footage that emerged Sunday night from Uman. It is unclear if COVID-19 health regulations were observed over Rosh Hashanah.
Last Tuesday, more than 1,000 Breslov Hassidim sought to cross into the Ukraine through a border crossing with neighboring Belarus. They were denied entry by the Ukrainian authorities.
The pilgrims spent Rosh Hashanah in the Belarusian cities of Pinsk and Gomel, close to the southern border with Ukraine, and the capital Minsk.
Footage from post-Rosh Hashanah celebrations by Breslov Hassidim in those cities showed dozens, and maybe hundreds, of people dancing in crowded conditions without masks or social distancing.