Swine flu has struck the small Israeli Jewish community of Uman, in Ukraine, and taken the life of 34-year-old Rabbi Yisrael Pinto, z’l, according to a report posted on the Hebrew-language Actualic news website.
Uman is the site of the tomb of Torah sage Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the founder of the Hassidic Breslov movement. Tens of thousands of Jews flock to the site to pray at the grave of the beloved rabbi.
Rabbi Pinto served as a spiritual leader in Uman’s Breslov community, and was the owner and manager of the Orot Hotel. The rabbi was transferred to Odessa for medical care when his condition began to deteriorate, and when it was obvious that he required better care he was transferred to Israel’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem – but he did not survive.
Doctors in the Jewish community of Uman have called on residents there to immediately vaccinate their families against the virus, and community leaders have appealed to the State of Israel and its embassy in Kiev to send vaccines from Israel to Uman for the residents.
In an urgent letter sent to Israel’s ambassador in Kiev, the chief rabbi of Uman and to other officials, the Uman Jewish community leaders wrote they were “sorry to write this here, but before you all perhaps a day will arrive when salvation will come.
“It’s well known that our community is blossoming, with more than 80 families living in Uman, most of them Israeli citizens with more than 120 children under the age of of 10 who require treatment, vaccinations, examinations, supervision and so forth.
“There is also a kindergarten and a school for boys and girls; we cannot go on and ignore it, what is happening here is neglect, we are managing here on a day-by-day basis, even with a number of very difficult cases, even a few fatalities, God forbid, and all this is addressed with the barest minimum, with first aid kits. In our daily lives we deal with births, common illnesses, even mental health issues, motor vehicle accidents and more, all without proper equipment.”
Some of the Israeli members of the Uman Jewish community have also contracted swine flu, according to the report; others are desperate to obtain flu shots which are not available there. In addition, as is seen in the text of the above letter, some members of the community are reportedly also in need of other medical care as well.