Ukraine Urges Jewish Pilgrims Stuck at Border to Turn Back

KYIV, Ukraine—Ukraine on Thursday strongly warned thousands of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims who have been stuck on its border for days that it wont allow them into the country due to coronavirus restrictions.

Ukrainian authorities said about 2,000 people have gathered at the border with Belarus, in hope of traveling to the Ukrainian city of Uman to visit the grave of an important Hasidic rabbi who died in 1810, Nachman of Breslov.

Jewish pilgrims gather on the Belarus-Ukraine border (1)
Jewish pilgrims gather on the Belarus-Ukraine border (1)
Jewish pilgrims gather on the Belarus-Ukraine border, in Belarus, on Sept. 15, 2020. (TUT.by via AP)

Thousands of the ultra-Orthodox Jews visit the city each September for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. Its celebrated Sept. 18-20 this year, and some pilgrims had managed to get to Uman before Ukraine closed its borders in late August amid a surge in COVID-19 infections. Thousands of others traveled via Belarus, which hasnt barred foreign visitors from entering.

On Thursday, Ukraines Interior Ministry official Mykhailo Apostol reaffirmed that the pilgrims will not be allowed to cross the border.

“Ukraine has shut its borders to foreigners, and no exclusions will be made for the Hasidic pilgrims,” Apostol told reporters. “Its getting colder and we suggest that they come back to Belarus, buy tickets and go home.”

Jews Ukraine
Jews Ukraine
Jewish pilgrims, who plan to enter Ukraine from the territory of Belarus, gather near a border crossing point in Gomel Region, Belarus, on Sept. 15, 2020. (Breslev live/Handout via Reuters)

Israeli Higher Education Minister Zeev Elkin wrote on Twitter Thursday that efforts to help the pilgrims enter Ukraine have failed, and called on them to return to Israel.

At one point, dozens of Hasidic pilgrims dressed in Ukrainian traditional cossack costumes sang Ukraines national anthem and shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” in an apparent attempt to soften authorities hearts.

As thousands of pilgrims spent days in the no-manRead More – Source