After 207 years in which Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s Hasidim have been embarking on pilgrimages to his graveside in Uman, Ukraine, especially just before Rosh Hashanah, the holy man’s followers want to move his bones to a grave in Jerusalem – perhaps in the wake of an increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents in Uman. According to a Monday report on Army Radio, Israeli diplomats have already inquired with the Ukrainian government regarding moving Reb Nachman’s remains to Jerusalem, but, as it turns out, Kiev is not prepared to give up what has become a magnet for religious tourism.
Reb Nachman, the great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov — founder of Hassidism, attracted thousands of followers during his lifetime, and his influence continues today through many Hasidic movements such as Breslov.
According to the Army Radio report, the secret appeal was made by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), on behalf of Breslov Hasidism in Israel. The Ukrainian government has yet to issue an official response to the request, but Ukrainian officials have already made it clear to Israeli representatives that “the grave-site is a national historical asset.”
Rabbi Aryeh Lippo, one of the Hasidic group involved in the negotiations, told Army Radio: “It does not make sense that half of the Jewish people leave the Land of Israel once a year [to the Ukraine]. The Rebbe promised that whoever came to him he would grant an eternal favor and remove him from all the hellish circumstances in which he is mired.”
Rabbi Lippo promised that once Reb Nachman’s grave is the Land of Israel, “the entire people of Israel will be able to fix themselves.”