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Thousands Of Jews Gather Ukrainian Cities For Annual Pilgrimage Despite War

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Tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews arrived in the Ukrainian city of Uman on Sunday for their annual pilgrimage, despite authorities encouraging them to forego the trip due to the fighting, officials said. Every year, Hasidic Jewish pilgrims from all over the globe go to Uman in central Ukraine to visit the tomb of one of the great luminaries of Hasidic Judaism during the Jewish new year festival of Rosh Hashanah. “This is the most significant day of the year for connecting with God. And here is a fantastic location for it” Aaron Allen, a pilgrim, said to AFP.

Although Uman is not far from the war lines, Ukrainian and Israeli authorities have asked believers to avoid the celebrations scheduled for September 25 and 26. Regardless of warnings, Hasidim clad in customary black attire congregated in Uman to celebrate in the streets. There were sirens, but coming from Israel, we know what to do when we hear sirens. We’re feeling fairly secure, Allen, a 48-year-old doctor from Yad Binyamin, explained. Pilgrims frequently quote Rabbi Nachman, the founder of an ultra-Orthodox organization who died in the city in 1810, who promised to “rescue (worshippers) from torment” if they came to visit his tomb on Rosh Hashanah. Police set up a large cordon around the cemetery, checking IDs and only allowing locals and Hasidim to enter.

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