Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko launched his visit to Israel on Tuesday evening with a warm meeting with hassidic followers of Rabbi Nahman Breslov of Uman.
The Breslovs' representatives, Rabbi Daniel Dayan of the World Breslov Center, and lawyer Gilad Corinaldi, said that during their meeting, the president gave a commitment to protect Rabbi Braslev of Uman's gravesite and the nearby synagogue.
The Breslov's followers, for their part, awarded the president a silver trophy and welcomed his intervention against the danger hovering the gravesite.
Breslov delegates said Yushchenko told them during the meeting that "this is an important asset of the Jewish people. Access for Jews to pray there should be allowed and it's important to safeguard freedom of speech.
"We are checking the legal aspects that exist between the business and religious worlds. I declare that there will be no problem and that the matter will come to an agreed upon solution."
Ukraine's president presented with certificate and trophy (Photo: Yinon Kadari)
Yushchenko added that "the synagogue and the gravesite of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov in Uman are holy cultural and religious assets and belong to the Jewish people. Like in every enlightened country, in Ukraine, holy religious sites are not up for negotiations.
"To the hassidim I say personally that there is no cause for concern and I will act with all my power to protect them, or in the words of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov, there is no despair in the world at all."
Lawyer Corinaldi welcomed the breakthrough and stressed that "the personal intervention of the Ukrainian president sends a clear message that religious sites are out of bounds and nonnegotiable."
He also sought to thank Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, as well as Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai for their intervention.