(JTA) – Israel will open a temporary consulate in Uman during Rosh Hashanah, when at least 30,000 Jews perform a pilgrimage in that Ukrainian city. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem announced the move Tuesday, August 28, stating the diplomat working from the temporary consulate will “address urgent consular matters like stolen or lost travel documents and any other emergency assistance extended by Israeli embassies worldwide.” The temporary consulate is located at the compound containing what many believe is the burial site of Rabbi Nachman, an 18th-century luminary whose supposed gravesite is the focal point of the celebration. As in previous years, Israeli police will also send officers to Uman for the duration of the holiday to help local authorities maintain order. Authorities in Ukraine have improved access to Uman in recent years, and plans are underway for reopening an unused military airport near the city for direct flights. Uman, a city of 70,000 residents, is located in central Ukraine, 150 miles south of Kiev.
Last year, a record 40,000 pilgrims made the trek to Uman. The pilgrimage has created frequent friction between the pilgrims and locals, many of whom resent the cordoning off of neighborhoods by police. Street brawls are not uncommon during the holiday, when Uman attracts many followers of the Breslov Hasidic sect. In Israel, that movement is known for its outreach to prison inmates.
Another issue is the internal trade that develops among pilgrims, which some locals say eliminates the benefits that come with conventional tourism.
But according to operativno.net, Ukrainian business owners in Uman overcharge pilgrims as a matter of policy. While Ukrainian customers pay 70 cents for a dozen eggs, pilgrims are charged $10, according to the news website.
CAP: Illustrative: Hasidic pilgrims praying near the burial site of Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav in Uman