"On Shabbat, when they knew we wouldn’t be able to respond or activate the communication device, they simply knocked down the fence, pushed the light poles and security cameras and caused damage estimated at half a million dollars. We are approaching the High Holidays, and this disrupts all our work arrangements.”
Above: Hasidim in Uman near the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (file photo)
Ukrainian Nationalists Attack, Destroy Unlicensed Breslov Tent Camp In Uman As Police Stand By And Do Nothing To Stop Them
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
On Shabbat, several dozen Ukrainian nationalists stormed a tent encampment meant to service hasidic visitors to Uman over Rosh Hashana. According to a report in Ynet, the Ukrainian nationalists destroyed equipment and parts of a fence at the unlicensed tent camp, and did hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
Ukrainian police arrived on scene but eyewitnesses reportedly said they did nothing to stop the nationalists.
"On Shabbat, when they knew we wouldn’t be able to respond or activate the communication device, they simply knocked down the fence, pushed the light poles and security cameras and caused damage estimated at half a million dollars. We are approaching the High Holidays, and this disrupts all our work arrangements,” Eliezer Kirshboim, chairman and director of the Jewish association of Uman, reportedly told Ynet’s parent publication Yedioth Ahronoth.
The nationalists “harass the Jewish hasidim,” Kirshboim continued, in order to gain political points. “Whoever harasses the Hasidim more has a better chance of winning the elections in October.” The current mayor was "appointed" by members of the nationalist Svoboda party after the revolution, and “there is crazy state of anarchy here. All they want is a bribe and to prove that they are harassing hasidim,” he said.
Breslov hasidim recently invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Uman, but local authorities are still hostile, Kirshboim said. "We are under the impression that their goal is that the hasidim won't come to Ukraine at all.”
Genady Beloritski, an attorney who represents Breslov, noted that while Breslov owns 70% of than in the area of the tent encampment, city authorities refused to grant Breslov a license for it.
Uman contains the burial site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772 - 1810), the founder of the Beslov hasidic movement. Breslov hasidim have traditionally tried to go to the grave and spend the High Holidays there. But in recent years, Rosh Hashana in Uman has become a large hasidic street carnival with thousands of hasidim and other Jews crowding the town, dancing in the streets, and drinking. Drug use is said to be common, as is consorting with Ukrainian prostitutes, so much so that prostitutes from Kiev and other cities have been known to travel to Uman for Rosh Hashana to service the travelers.
Hasidim and other Jews who come to Uman for Rosh Hashana often rent rooms in apartments of Ukrainian locals or, sometimes, entire apartments. Wealthier hasidim stay in local hotels while the wealthiest own their own housing in the city. But there is often a shortage of housing and it is not uncommon to see hasidim sleeping on synagogue benches, in parks, or camping near the gravesite.
Hasidic vendors sell kosher food and religious items, and large communal holiday meals are often served.
Although the information about the attack by the nationalists was given to what Ynet calls “the highest diplomatic ranks,” no suspects have yet been arrested.