Shmuel Tubul, a 19-year-old Breslov Hasid, was stabbed to death early Sunday morning in the town of Uman, Ukraine, and his brother was lightly injured in a brawl between several local residents.
The murder dumbfounded Breslov community members in Israel and
around the world, and Ukraine's chief Rabbi expressed fear that local authorities might attempt to whitewash the grave incident.
On Sunday – the fourth day of Sukkot
– Uman marked the 200th anniversary to the passing of Rabbi Nachman from Breslov, who is buried in the town.
The two brothers flew to the Ukraine especially to visit the Rabbi's grave, who according to tradition promised to protect his followers. The victim recently got engaged, and was about to get married in two months.
According to eyewitnesses, close to 1 am Sunday, a few locals hurled stones and smashed the windshield of a car owned by Jews, which was parked on one of the central streets in town.
Shmuel Menachem Tubul (Photo: Shlomi Rosilio)
The two brothers, from a well known family in Breslov, heard the clamor and rushed down from their house, only to discover their vehicle has been damaged.
One of the brothers started chasing the perpetrators, and when he caught up with one of them, the man turned around and stabbed him in his chest with a knife. The young man collapsed and died in the hospital shortly after. His brother, who came to his help, was lightly injured in a brawl that took place at the scene.
Members of the local Breslov community in Uman estimated that the attackers were looking to provoke local Jews and "settle the score" with them, after a Jewish man stabbed
and lightly injured a local resident during Rosh Hashana.
Nachman Horowitz, a friend of the deceased, was the first to arrive on the scene. He refused to comment on the circumstance of the event, but said that the incident was clearly an anti-Semitic one and that the youth "was killed because he was Jewish."
The crime scene (Photo: Shlomi Rosalio, News 24)
According to local media, Jewish worshippers blocked the Ukrainian police forces that arrived at the scene, and tried to prevent the arrest of the Jewish suspect. The police officers then used crowd dispersal means and took the man into custody.
Ukraine's Chief Rabbi Moshe Asman and the director of the Jewish community Ya'acov Zilberman, who also heads ZAKA in the Ukraine, were both making their way from the capital of Kiev to the hospital in Uman in order to take care of the body.
Rabbi Asman told Ynet that he will request to closely follow the investigation into the murder, and has even contacted the police and law authorities on the matter.
"There were incidents in the past that the police tried to cover up," he explained, "That's why it is important that we are here and keep on top of things."
Manny Gera-Schwartz, a haredi journalist who is a friend of the deceased's family, told Ynet that Tubul, who recently became engaged, "was a good, kind man. Anyone who arrived in Uman and heeds help of any kind could turn to him. He has such a big heart.
"An hour before his was killed he was singing and dancing," Gera-Schwartz continued. "He was never the sort of man to pick a fight and it is obvious that he didn’t start it, but when they came after him, he had to defend himself."
Meanwhile, ZAKA members were trying to prevent an autopsy on the body, so that it can be quickly transferred back to Israel.