A statue of Jesus on the cross in Uman, Ukraine, reportedly erected to honor the 1,025th anniversary of the mass conversion to Christianity of the medieval Kingdom of Kievan Rus, was defaced with inflammatory Hebrew-language graffiti late last week, apparently by hasidim who had come to celebrate Rosh HaShana at the grave of the founder of the Breslov hasidic movement, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.
Breslov Hasidim Allegedly Defaced Statue Of Jesus On The Cross, Ukrainian Observers Fear Retalitory Violence
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A statue of Jesus on the cross in Uman, Ukraine, reportedly erected to honor the 1,025th anniversary of the mass conversion to Christianity of the medieval Kingdom of Kievan Rus, was defaced with inflammatory Hebrew-language graffiti late last week, apparently by hasidim who had come to celebrate Rosh HaShana at the grave of the founder of the Breslov hasidic movement, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, according to a JTA report.
“To exact vengeance on the gentiles” and “Stop desecrating the name of God” was painted across the statue’s body.
The statue is reportedly located across from Rabbi Nachman’s burial site.
Three years ago, hasidim visiting Uman for their annual Rosh HaShana pilgrimage rioted after two local non-Jewish men were allegedly caught stealing by hasidim. Hundreds of hasidim fought with police. Calm was restored only when two uniformed Israeli policeman who had come with the pilgrimage interceded. Also that year, a drunken hasid stabbed a non-Jewish local allegedly caught stealing.
In 2009, hasidim rioted when police tried to shut down unlicensed food stalls that also violated local health codes. A police officer was bitten by a hasid and television news cameras were smahed by hasidim during the melee.
Local non-Jewish residents have long complained about the annual influx of hasidim who, they say, strew their town with trash, ignore local laws, damage apartments they’ve rented, make large amounts of noise late into the night, and otherwise run roughshod of the locals.
In return, Breslov leaders have pointed to anti-Semitism, rather than hasidic malfeasance, as the root of locals’ dissatisfaction with Breslov.
Hasidic publicly leaders asked locals to move the statue.
“We respect other religions, and don’t wish to damage symbols of other religions. But, unfortunately, not all of our coreligionists understand this. They could break or destroy the cross. That would lead to a genuine war between hasidim and Christians. We cannot allow that, so we request that the cross be moved to a different location,” Shimon Busquila of the Rabbi Nachman International Fund reportedly told the Russian news site Korrespondent.ru.
Uman’s deputy mayor also reportedly asked locals to move the statue.
Breslov has taken some steps to reduce points of friction with locals and to control the behavior of those hasidim who come on the pilgrimage.
But this newest point of friction may make that moot.
“If they touch the cross, we will retaliate on the grave of their tzaddik,” a non-Jewish Ukrainian local reportedly told the Vzglyad newspaper.