Young Israeli brutally murdered in Uman brawl

Israeli man's brother also stabbed after local Ukrainian residents throw rocks at family car outside their house; 2 assailants arrested.

Rabbi Nahman supporters in Ukraine 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
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.
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.
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According to 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 arrested.
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.
When police 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.
The 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.
Meshi-Zahav said that by Sunday evening Tubol’s body had arrived in Kiev and would land in Israel Monday afternoon.
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 the autopsy.”
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 Tubol’s family.
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.”
Amitai 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 wounds.
“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.”