Thousands of Israeli pilgrims who belong to the Breslov branch of Hasidism set foot in Uman for Rosh Hashanah celebrations, under the backdrop of a war situation in Ukraine.
“It is clearly not the best time to come,” Ukraine’s Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko said. “A better time will come after our victory.” Despite Ukraine’s warning, some pilgrims had already prepared to leave for the trip from the heavily Orthodox town of Monsey, New York, and some of those already in Uman either nonchalantly laughed at the warnings or responded to them with righteous indignation led by their strong religious beliefs.
This being said, the journey has not been easy for most pilgrims this year. The pilgrims, who usually come to Uman via Kyiv, have had to make other arrangements. Many decided to come days or weeks early to ensure that they were in Ukraine come what may. Since direct flights to Ukraine have been canceled, most are flying to Poland, Romania, and Moldova, before hopping in taxis for expensive rides across the border. Some have stopped for a respite in a western city like Lviv; the journey from western Ukraine to Uman can then take up to 10 or more hours.
On Monday, Ukrainian officials said they would be increasing security checks around Uman and redoubling efforts to explain the wartime rules — such as a strict curfew and a restriction on taking photos of military personnel — to pilgrims arriving from Israel.