Despite the country being ravaged by war, Ukrainian officials said they are preparing for mass arrival of Hasidic Jews to the city of Uman ahead of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.
According to head of Cherkasy Oblast Military Administration Ihor Taburets, more than 1,000 Hasidic Jews have already arrived in Uman for the traditional pilgrimage to the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov - the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.
As a result, the Ukrainian authorities said they are is preparing security measures for the arrival of the pilgrims.
Ukrainian special forces are said to be bolstering security in areas where the Hasidic Jews are to be present, and have trained to respond quickly against potential threats.
The forces have been conducting drills, which included operating with climbing gear, detaining terrorists and releasing hostages. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), uploaded photos of the forces during training in Cherkasy.
Despite the preparations, the SBU and Ukrainian police maintained that Hasidic Jews should refrain from making their way to Uman this year over the ongoing war with Russia. Ukrainian officials apparently fear that Russia will take advantage of their arrival to stir further provocations.
Taburets said on Monday that Ukrainian authorities will place limitations on visits by Hasidic Jews. “The Hasidic Jews were warned ahead of time that staying in Ukraine is dangerous, but they claim to be used to war, since it also occurs in Israel.”
According the Tabuerts, Uman is still under threat from Russian artillery fire. “Further restrictions will be put in place to maintain curfew,” Ukrainian authorities said. “Every person will be registered and movement around the city will be limited - both on foot and via vehicles. Road blocks will also be placed on some streets.”
In the years before the war and the onset of COVID - some 30,000-40,000 Jewish pilgrims visited the gravesite in Uman annually.