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Rabbi Nachman's grave site redeemed from legal wrangle
Etgar Lefkovits
09/24/2008
Controversy began six years ago after local Jewish community decided to build a synagogue at the site.
Euro-Asian Jewish Congress President Alexander Machkevich said Wednesday he has resolved a prickly land dispute over the reputed grave site of the founder of Breslov Hassidism in the Ukraine, and has recovered the area for the benefit of the local Breslov community. The controversy over the land where Rabbi Nachman Breslover (1772-1810), also known as Nachman from Uman, is thought to be buried began six years ago after the local Jewish community decided to build a new synagogue at the site, and employed a Ukrainian contractor to do the job. After the Jewish community defaulted on payment, the Ukrainian Supreme Court ruled that the contractor, who is also a member of the country's parliament, became the lawful owner of the property, Machkevich said. Years of negotiations failed to resolve the issue. The area is the site of pilgrimage by thousands of hassidim from Israel and around the world. "He [the contractor] could have built a mosque there," Machkevich said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post during a visit to Israel, where he holds citizenship. After being approached by Yeshaya Kogen, the chief rabbi of his native Kazakhstan, who cited divine intervention, Machkevich warily agreed to get involved in the negotiations. "I was in doubt that I could do anything because it was quite a complicated situation," he said. After six months of negotiations, Machkevich, a self-made billionaire, closed a deal with the Ukrainian contractor last week after paying him more than half a million dollars. "The money is nothing compared to the achievement," Machkevich said. "The main thing is that we got it back." "I am happy that God gave me the possibility to intervene," he said.
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