Official warnings issued against travel to Uman

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By Yisrael Price

People dinner near the grave of Rabi Nachman of Breslov, Uman last January, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM — The mayor of Uman added her voice to a warning issued by the Israeli Foreign Ministry warning people not to travel to this Ukrainian city for Rosh Hashana due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“My position is that people should be safe,” Iryna Pletnyova told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. “And right now, this neighborhood that usually hosts the festivities doesn’t have enough bomb shelters. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the complete security of the [visitors] if they enter.

On Monday evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a similar statement discouraging people from attending Uman’s annual event: “Due to the war and fighting between Russian forces and Ukrainian forces, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on Israeli citizens to refrain from traveling to Ukrainian territory, including Uman and its surroundings,” and underlined the danger posed by rocket and air attacks by Russian forces.

While the Kyiv government hasn’t actually banned foreign travellers, including to Uman, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk recently said the country “cannot guarantee the safety of pilgrims” in because of the Russian offensive, and asked the Charidi community instead of “praying for the victory of Ukraine”.

Pletnyova worries that people will come despite warnings and that she will be blamed if something bad happens to them.

“They are not afraid of bombardments,” said the mayor. “But if something goes wrong, then they’re going to find the person responsible, and the head of the town is going to be one of the people who’s going to be blamed.”

Pletnyova said the city should either build more shelters or limit the number of people entering.

Israel’s envoy to Ukraine told ToI last week that Yerushalayim made no demands of Kyiv regarding the event.

“Whatever they decide, we will comply,” said Michael Brodsky, speaking from his hotel in Kyiv before flying back to Poland. “And we understand their concerns, that’s for sure.”

Brodsky made it clear what Israel’s preference is: “Under normal circumstances, we are committed to the security of the Israelis. But under the current circumstances, the embassy will not be able to provide consular or other services.

“We strongly advise them not to come this year, for their own safety.”

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