Ukraine and Israel, in joint statement, urge pilgrims to Uman to stay home this Rosh Hashanah

Pilgrims to Uman celebrate at the grave of Rebbe Nachman, Sept. 7, 2013. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ukraine’s interior minister said his country will implement a ban on the convergence of foreign pilgrims at Uman for the annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage as a coronavirus restriction.

Arsen Avakov also stressed that the Ministry of Internal Affairs will provide “all technical measures to implement the above quarantine restrictions in Uman,” according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

Avakov noted in the statement that the mass event of up to 50,000 Hasidim from different countries to Uman, who for at least three days celebrate and perform religious rites, and visit holy places, “creates huge risks of spreading the virus not only to the participants of the event, but also to the local population.”

Ukraine has seen a marked increase in cases of the coronavirus in recent weeks.

Avakov called for “understanding in this matter from the representatives of the Hasidic religious community.”

In previous years, tens of thousands of pilgrims, mostly from Israel, have gathered for the Jewish New Year in Uman, home to the burial place of Rabbi Nachman, an 18th-century luminary and founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.

Ukraine and Israel released a joint statement on Tuesday.

“Following the recommendations and warnings of the Ministries of Health of Ukraine and Israel, we urge all pilgrims who have planned or are planning to take part in this year’s Rosh Hashanah celebrations in Ukraine to refrain from visiting the city of Uman due to the threatening epidemiological situation,” said the statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office in Israel.

Pilgrims who visit Uman despite the plea will be required to adhere to the country’s restrictions put in place for all public events to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing masks and social distancing.

Rosh Hashanah this year begins on the evening of Sept. 18.