By Cnaan Liphshiz
Ukraine will allow vaccinated pilgrims to arrive in Uman ahead of the annual Rosh Hashanah celebration there, authorities said.
The announcement, which comes amid a major increase in infections in Israel, the home of most of the pilgrims, follows fears that Ukraine would ban the pilgrimage for a second year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Currently, the epidemiological situation in Ukraine, high levels of vaccination coverage in the world and timely preparation for this celebration, allows to receive pilgrims,” Deputy Health Minister Dr. Igor Kuzin said in a statement earlier this week.
Before the pandemic, about 30,000 participated in the pilgrimage each year to the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman, an 18th-century Jewish luminary whose teachings are followed especially by the Breslov Hasidic community.
Last year, both Israel and Ukraine put in place measures that prevented the pilgrimage for most participants. Yet some Breslovers attempted to circumvent the bans and measures, convening in the hundreds on the border with Belarus.
Under the current measures in Israel, its citizens may travel to Ukraine but must self-isolate for two weeks upon returning. Self-isolation in Ukraine is not required for travelers who undergo a COVID test that comes out negative.
Ukrainian health authorities have launched a concentrated vaccination effort in Uman, focusing on service providers and health professionals in preparation for the pilgrimage, which will culminate on Rosh Hashanah, on Sept 6-8.
Ukrainian police are patrolling Uman to ensure pilgrims adhere to social distancing measures.