Ukraine / 04-10-2012
Uman – While large groups of Rabbi Nahman's followers visited the rabbi's grave in Uman, Ukraine in honor of Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), Ukranian and Israeli police forces cooperate to secure the safety of the visitors. The municipality is responsible for cleanliness, order, and other related services. Devotees stay in one concentrated area, which is cordoned off. Locals cannot enter this area unless their identity card specifically notes that they are residents of that neighborhood, or if they hold a special entry permit issued by the Uman police department. This arrangement helps minimize tensions and confrontations between the visiting devotees and local residents.
The devotees are permitted to exit the neighborhood and tour the city. As Ukrainian elections draw near, the city is flooded with booths promoting the different political parties. Alongside these booths SIM card vendors have sprung up, catering to the devotees. This year, signs appeared that read Bruchim HaBaim ('welcome' in Hebrew). These were hung along the road leading from the airport to Uman. In addition, way finding signs appeared in both English and Hebrew. The area where the devotees stayed was also designed quite nicely.
Despite this, a swastika, anti-Semitic graffiti, and symbols of the devil were drawn on the fence at the rear end of the central square on Sovetskaya Street. Journalists who write for Eleonora Groysman's website, Jewish Kiev, asked members of the Ukrainian Jewish community how Jews and devotees are treated in Uman. The reply was the same: “Those who make a living from the devotees like them more than they like us, and those who don't, “like” us and then equally.”