The Ukrainian city of Uman, in the Cherkasy Province, is an historical site of pilgrimage for Hasidic Jews, which often draws tens of thousands of pilgrims during Rosh Hashana. The pilgrimage centers around the burial site of an important religious leader of the late 18th century.
This year, it’s going to be tough going for the Hasidim, however, as the massive tent city the local Jewish community erected to house the pilgrims was wiped out over the weekend by Ukrainian nationalist fighters.
The Ukrainian nationalist groups often style themselves as neo-Nazis, and have been demonized by the pro-Russian east because of this. They remained embraced in large by Western nations, who were pleased at their violent rallies ousting the former pro-Russian government of Ukraine. However much Western governments try to shore up the image of these groups as “democratic,” they continue to engage in ethnic and religious violence, as evidenced over this weekend.
The locals say the attack in Uman was scheduled for the Sabbath, knowing that the Hasidim would be unable to quickly respond. Police were informed and responded, but stood by and watched as the nationalists caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
The local government is generally favorable to the nationalists, they say, as the “mayor” of Uman was installed, not elected, after the ouster of the pro-Russian government by leaders of the far-right Svoboda movement, the same group that just a week ago attacked parliament.
Since being in charge in Uman means being supported by the far-right, it is seen that they attacks are not just religiously motivated, but also attempts by the organizers to curry political favor in the lead up to October’s elections.