Minister Zeev Elkin said this morning, Thursday, that Ukraine has announced with finality that it will not allow entry to Breslov Hasidim seeking to visit Rebbe Nachman’s grave in Uman for Rosh Hashanah.
“Despite many efforts made to assist Israelis who tried to enter Ukraine through Belarus or Moldova, a negative final answer was received this morning from the Ukrainian authorities,” the minister announced.
He said, “The Ukrainians have announced that they will not allow entry through border crossings or any small delegation. I call on our citizens to return to Israel and obey the isolation guidelines upon their return. Happy New Year.”
It should be noted that more than 1,500 Breslov Hasidim are stuck on the border between Belarus and Ukraine, after the Ukrainian authorities blocked the crossing between the two countries.
MK Yulia Malinowski from Yisrael Beiteinu responded to Minister call:
“The writing was on the wall. All those politicians, activists and rabbis who lied to the followers who are now stuck on the Belarus-Ukraine border and planted in them a false hope that they could reach the nationalist – they are no less than charlatans and crooks.”
“Now the state will need a national rescue mission, not to mention the isolations that will cost a great deal of money for the thousands who are stuck there ahead of the holiday.”
The activist Rabbi Chaim Weitzhandler, a leading Breslov Hasid who is also stuck on the Belarus-Ukraine border, described in an interview with the Hamevaser newspaper:
“The sights are extremely serious and take us back to dark and difficult times in history. Children are literally hungry for bread. Yesterday provisions came from Uman and Belarus, it hurt to the point of tears to see the crowd just pushing to get another piece of bread, another bottle of water. “
“The situation here is in complete chaos, two or three days before the holiday, more than one thousand five hundred Jewish citizens of Israel are stuck between heaven and earth,” he added.
According to Rabbi Weitzhandler, “the border from the side of Belarus has been opened, and the forces on the ground are letting everyone in, but hundreds of soldiers are blocking the entrance to the Ukrainian border. One can neither advance nor return. It is not clear how the prime minister can celebrate in the White House when thousands of citizens are between heaven and earth as a result of his own policy.”
“People are here in a real humanitarian crisis, if for another day it is possible to somehow survive, the afternoon and evening come and extreme cold descends on this whole area. Families and young children find themselves in a situation they did not believe they would ever meet,” he noted.
Ukrainian authorities said about 2,000 Hasidic Jewish pilgrims converged on the border in Belarus in hopes of crossing over and reaching the Ukrainian city of Uman.
While Belarus has allowed them to cross the border, Ukraine has refused to let them in, in line with a decision last month to close its borders amid rising coronavirus infection numbers.
The grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, who died in 1810 and was the founder of the Bratslav Hasidic sect, is located in Uman, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Kyiv.
Some 30,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews visit the city each September for Rosh Hashanah, while others maintain a year-round Jewish presence in the city.
Header: Ukrainian border guards block the road on the Belarus-Ukraine border (TUT.by via AP)