War or not, Hasidic Jewish pilgrims head to Ukraine this year

War or not Hasidic Jewish pilgrims head to Ukraine this

Despite numerous warnings, 10,000 Israelis are expected by the weekend in Uman, Ukraine. These Hasidic Jews, one of the ultra-Orthodox branches of Judaism, take part in an annual pilgrimage on the occasion of the Jewish New Year. This year, with the war in Ukraine, kyiv warns them of the dangers linked to the Russian invasion. The Israeli authorities implore them to cancel their trip. But no matter, they are determined to pray at the tomb of their famous rabbi, Nahman of Breslev, who is buried there. RFI met a young ultra-Orthodox before his departure.

With our correspondent in Jerusalem, Sami Boukhelifa

On his phone, Moshe Lifchitz shows the itinerary of his trip. With the closure of Ukrainian airspace, the young man flew first to London, then to Moldova, before continuing his long journey by road to Ouman.

For nothing in the world, he would have missed this pilgrimage.

I’ve been going there every year since I was six. So I’ve been going to Uman every year for 24 years. I even went there in 2020 during the pandemic, when the borders were closed. It was very hard, but I went anyway. And with God’s help, I’m going back tomorrow.

Whether it’s the Covid or the war, nothing will prevent this ultra-Orthodox father of two from going to Ukraine. He says he is leaving one conflict zone for another.

When it is war in Israel with Gaza, the Israelis who live in Sderot, near Gaza, are not asked to leave their homes to take refuge in Jerusalem. For my community, there is nothing more important than spending Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in Uman. I have thousands of friends who are already there. My father has also been there for two weeks. Everything is fine.

According to Moshe, his contacts in Uman assure him: The situation on site is very quiet. However, Ukrainian authorities claim that “ additional restrictions in that city will be in addition to the curfew currently in effect. ” No public gatherings will be allowed. »

►Read again: More than a thousand Hasidic Jewish pilgrims stranded at the gates of Ukraine (2020)