Even as the coronavirus plagues the world, many pilgrims still plan on arriving at Uman for the yearly Rosh Hashanah prayer at the grave of the Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Mako reported.
Both the Israeli and Ukranian governments have made statements in which they said that they will forbid anyone from traveling between the two countries. Newer statements, however, specified that while people would be allowed to enter the grave’s compound, they will only be a few hundred in number, and those who do not follow the rules will be deported from the country and put to trial.
Despite these restrictions, many are still planning on arriving at the grave, even in several unorthodox methods.
“I know there are some who are trying to get fake European or even Ukrainian passports in high quality forgery, and they’re willing to pay anywhere between NIS 5,000 and even NIS 10,000 to get it, because the most important thing to them is to arrive at the grave to celebrate,” One Breslov follower from Jerusalem told Mako. “There’s a very good forgery lab in the city. We’re very loyal and we won’t give up. We’ll pay whomever we need any amount to go and pray during Rosh Hashanah at the Rabbi’s grave.”
Other ways to circumvent the coronavirus regulations have come up, include using a friend’s passport and changing its picture, as well as arriving at countries which border the Ukraine and drive from there to the site of the grave.
Ukraine and Israel maintain healthy relations, with the Ukrainian city of Uman being a popular destination for Jewish pilgrims from around the world, due to it being home to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Uman. However, the coronavirus has raised fears about the travel of Jewish pilgrims to Uman during Rosh Hashanah. In a joint statement, Israel and Ukraine urged pilgrims to avoid Uman due to the pandemic.
Members of the Ukrainian and Israeli governments have also voiced their opposition to the annual Uman pilgrimage this year.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that the mass gathering could create a large spike in COVID-19 infections, spreading it among pilgrims as well as the local population.