Hasidic Jews will have to forego an annual pilgrimage to the central Ukrainian town of Uman this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the town’s mayor has said.
Every Jewish New Year, tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who revived the Hasidic movement and died in 1810.
This tradition dates back to 1811, when the Rabbi's foremost disciple, Nathan of Breslov, organized the first such pilgrimage on the Rosh Hashana after the Rebbe's death.
These days, the festivities bring together not only Hasidic Ashkenazi Jews, but also Mizrachi Jews and even traditional and non-observant Jews
This year, Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) celebrations run from September 18-20.
“The common opinion is that the arrival of tens of thousands of Hasidic pilgrims to Uman to conduct the celebration in the traditional format is impossible,” Mayor Oleksander Tsebriy said on Facebook.
He cited the prevalence of the coronavirus in both Ukraine and Israel, and the difficulty of monitoring compliance with the required health measures.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, himself Jewish, has reportedly examined several possible outlines to allow the pilgrimage.
Among the various methods examined are limiting the number of parishioners, pilgrimage in small groups and COVID-19 tests for all arrivals.
The Jewish community in Ukraine has voiced its objection to calling off the mass event.