Uman Pilgrimage to Set Record Numbers

The annual Rosh HaShana pilgrimage that Breslov Hassidim take to Uman, the city in which their Rebbe - Rabbi Nachman - is buried, is expected to reach record number this year, thanks to an agreement with the Ukranian government.

The organizers of the annual pilgrimage are expecting at least 50,000 people this year, most of them Israelis.  The reason for the sudden jump is because of an agreement between the Israeli and Ukranian foreign ministries that would eliminate visa for travel between the two countries.  The result is that the cost per ticket is approximately $70 less than it was in previous years.

The Rosh HaShana pilgrimage is expected to begin next week and will reach its peak on Rosh HaShana.  This year, because of the clashes that occurred last year that left a Ukranian resident and several Jews injured, security will be maintained by Breslov Hasidim who served in IDF as well as by security cameras.

In addition to this, the Breslov community has embarked on massive project to partially fund the plane tickets and accommodations for the attendants.  This is because of the Turkish-Israeli conflict over the last few months that has made flying through Turkey undesirable and has led to high flight prices.  The prices of a bed in Uman are also high during this time of year since residents of Uman now take advantage of the annual burst of tourism, sometime charging as much as $600 for a bed and room near the gravesite for two days.  To date, NIS 8 Million has been raised for tickets and accommodations.

The tradition of visiting the graves of holy individuals or great rabbis is a common practice amongst most Jews.  Rabbi Nachman, the only Rabbi of the Breslov Hassic sect, died about 200 years ago and since then, his followers have been visiting his grave, even risking life and limb to do so.  The pilgrimage, however, only started to become popular in the 1980s and now has become an annual practice not just limited to his followers, even including secular Jews and celebrities as well.