Representatives from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with members of the Breslov Hasidim sect in Israel, secretly submitted a request to the Ukrainian government to bring the remains of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov to Jerusalem. According to the Israel Army Radio, at this stage, Kiev is not willing to give up the grave that has become a popular tourist site for Jews from all over the world.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov's grave in Kiev

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s grave in Kiev Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

207 years after his death, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s grave, located in Uman, Ukraine, serves as a pilgrimage site for many Jews from around the world. According to the Israel Army Radio, Israeli diplomats have asked the Ukrainian government to allow Israel to bring Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s remains to Jerusalem.

According to reports, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely directed the covert talks in cooperation with members of the Rabbi’s followers, the Breslov Hasidism, in Israel. The government in Kiev has yet to officially respond to the request, but has apparently made it clear to the Israeli representatives that “the grave is a national historic asset.”

Sources in the Ukraine also said that at this stage, there is no intention to remove the grave from Uman, largely because it is a popular and profitable tourist site. It seems likely, therefore, that Rabbi Nachman’s followers will have to continue making their annual pilgrimage to Uman on Rosh Hashana- this despite the rabbi’s famous statement that “wherever I go I go to Eretz Yisrael.”

Rabbi Aryeh Lippo, a member of the Breslov Hasidism sect who was involved in the talks, told the Israel Army Radio that “it does not make sense that half of the Jewish people leave the Land of Israel once a year.” According to the rabbi, with the grave in Israel, “the entire people of Israel would be able to make atonement.”