Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thousands of Hasidic Jews attend annual pilgrimage to rabbi's Ukrainian tomb 

"This year, 23,627 people arrived, including about 21,400 from Israel and more than 1,200 from the United States", Uman townhall official Janna Lozynska said. "The number of pilgrims rises every year. In 2009, they were 18,805," she added.

Hundreds of men clad in typical black garb prayed, chanted and danced in the Uman neighbourhoods close to grave of Rebbe Nachman, a key figure in the Hasidic branch of Orthodox Judaism.

"Celebrations are going on normally, no one is complaining, neither the pilgrims nor the locals," said Petro Payevsky, deputy mayor of this city about 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of the capital Kiev.

Uman has become a permanent fixture in the Hasidim's annual Jewish New Year celebrations since Nachman breathed new life into the Hasidic movement 200 years ago.

Nachman, who died in 1810, promised he would save those followers from Hell who came to his grave on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which this year started at sunset on Wednesday.


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