Ten Hasidic pilgrims deported from Ukraine

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Sept. 13, 2010, 12:41 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Hasidic Jews perform a ritual dousing with holy water from a local pond before celebrations for the Jewish New Year in Uman, some 120 miles south of Kyiv on Sept. 8, 2010. Thousands of followers of Rabbi Nachman from around the world flocked to the Uman to pay homage to their spiritual leader and celebrate the start of the New Year at his grave.

Ukraine has deported to Israel ten Hasidic pilgrims, who attempted to disrupt public order in Uman, Cherkasy region, and who were suspected of causing bodily harm to local residents. The pilgrims have been banned from Ukraine for five years, the media liaisons department of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's main office in Cherkasy region reported.

The deputy head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's main office in Cherkasy region, Ivan Korsun, said that pre-investigation checks were being conducted with respect to three more Hasidic pilgrims.

Korsun also noted that two conflicts had erupted during the Hasidic pilgrims' visits to Uman. One of the injured residents is already at home, while the other is still in hospital.

Clashes between the residents of Uman and the pilgrims broke out on September 10. In particular, a conflict erupted near a local children's hospital between activists of the first Jewish Evangelical Church, who arrived from Odesa to preach their faith in "true God," and the Hasidim. The activists of the Jewish Evangelical Church distributed leaflets and T-shirts with the slogans of the unity of the Jews in a common faith, and they said they were not planning to create a conflict situation. The Hasidic pilgrims objected to the rally, and a conflict broke out. The participants of the rally were obliged to return to Odesa.

The second case was connected with a reaction to a remark by a woman from Uman, who had leased her apartment to the Hasidim for the period of the pilgrimage, but due to noise said she would call the police. A man from the neighboring apartment came out and phoned the police.

"The Hasidim... started beating the man, chasing him onto the street. A passer-by came to his defense and suffered several blows," the department said.

The two injured men were hospitalized in a local city hospital.

Every autumn, Hasidic pilgrims travel to Uman to visit the gravesite of their spiritual leader Rabbi Nachman and celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

According to the police, around 24,000 Hasidic pilgrims from 23 countries arrived in Uman this year.

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