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Thousands Flock to Uman for Rosh Hashanah

17. September 2009 by Celeste 0 Comments

Rosh Hashanah kibbutz in Uman, Ukraine

Every year, tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews from around the world make a pilgrimage to the city of Uman, Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah, to visit the grave of Rebbe Nachman.  Despite the global economic troubles, many are still expected to visit the city this year as well. 


Rebbe Nachman was the great grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidic Judaism.  During his lifetime, Nachman breathed new life into the Hasidic movement by combining the esoteric secrets of Judaism with in-depth Torah scholarship. 


Thousands of Hasidim would travel to be with Rebbe Nachman during the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Chanuka, and Shavuot, during which he would deliver his formal lessons.  During the last Rosh Hashanah of his life, Rebbe Nachman stressed to his followers the importance of being with him for that holiday in particular, inspiring the institution of an annual pilgrimage to his gravesite on Rosh Hashanah, beginning in 1811, the year after his death. 


During the Communist era, only a dozen or so Hasidim would risk the annual pilgrimage, fearing raids and arrests regularly performed by the authorities.  After the fall of Communism in 1989, the gates were reopened entirely, allowing Jews from around the world to safely visit Nachman’s grave.


Pilgrims to the city believe in writing their prayers for Nachman on sheets of paper; in particular, it is believed that if you write down wishes for romance, you will be married within the year.  For these and many other reasons, tens of thousands of people, religious and secular, to pray and celebrate Nachman’s life.