23 August 2013, 16:41
Hasids say are ready to change traditional prayer site in Uman
Kiev, August 23, Interfax - Hasidic pilgrims who come to Uman in the Cherkassy Region of Ukraine every year to celebrate the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) will not pray at the pond where a cross has recently been installed, Shimon Buksila, vice-president of the Rebbe Nachman Charity Foundation , said.
"If the community has decided to put a cross there, we understand. God be with you, it's your city. No one has a right to speak against a religious symbol. To resolve this issue and avoid a possible conflict, we have met with Archbishop Panteleimon and representatives of the public organization that installed the cross. After the meeting, we understood that the cross cannot be moved," Gazeta.ua quoted Buksila as saying.
Representatives of the charity foundation reached an agreement with the police to put security guards around the cross.
"We respect Christian symbols. We are generally not against the cross, we are against the behavior of people who provoke ethnic disputes. Among the 20,000 pilgrims who will soon arrive in Uman may be those who will want to damage the cross. There may also be provocations," Buksila said.
For that reason, the president of the Rebbe Nachman Charity Foundation said a decision had been made to change the prayer site to a synagogue "or any other location."
According to earlier reports, Yakov Dov Bleich, chief rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine for Orthodox Judaism, told the media project European Kiev on August 20 that he believes the installation of the cross at the Hasidic prayer site in Uman was a provocation and said pilgrims will not be able to pray there.
At the same time, Israel projects the number of pilgrims who will arrive in Uman to observe the Jewish New Year at some 30,000. "According to our estimation, there will be some 30,000 pilgrims," Israeli First Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum told a press conference in Kiev.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, will be celebrated on September 4-6. Breslav Hasids from all over the world visit the grave of Rebbe Nachman, the founder of the branch of Breslaver Hasidim, every Jewish New Year.