Over 20,000 Jewish pilgrims have arrived in Uman, Ukraine, ahead of Rosh Hashanah, authorities said, despite warnings from Kyiv not to travel for the religious holiday due to the Russian invasion.

Thousands of Orthodox Jews come to Uman from Israel and other parts of the world every year to celebrate the holiday in the central Ukrainian city, one of the birthplaces of the Hasidic movement.

Celebrations were to take place amid tightened security due to the war.

“As of the morning of September 14, around 22,000 Hasidic pilgrims have already arrived in Uman, mostly from Israel, the United States and a number of European countries,” Cherkasy region head Igor Taburets said.

“Around 1,000 law enforcement officers will ensure security during the celebrations. We prepared an additional 24 shelters. In particular, (we) installed concrete mobile shelters,” he said.

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Since Russia’s fully fledged invasion of Ukraine last year, Kyiv has urged pilgrims not to travel to Uman, which has been targeted by lethal air strikes.

In April, a Russian missile strike on an apartment block in the city killed more than 20 civilians.

Uman has been a pilgrimage site for around 200 years.

It is the birthplace of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, one of the founders of the Jewish Hasidic movement.

“Currently, the situation in Uman is stable and under control. Our security and defence forces are working in enhanced mode,” Taburets said.

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He added that Israeli police officers were patrolling the pilgrimage neighbourhood, in addition to Ukrainian law enforcement officers.

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