Kovid Strads Hassidic pilgrims on Ukraine-Belarus border

VINNYTSIA, Ukraine – He sang. they danced. They slipped on their belongings in exhaustion. For a second night, hundreds of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims remained on the road between checkpoints on the border between Ukraine and Belarus on Tuesday, stranded by Coronovirus travel restrictions.

Border guards in Ukraine have barred the crossing where pilgrims are seeking to enter the country, Rashi Hashana in the city of Osman, the Jewish New Year, the site of Rabbi Nachman’s tomb, the founder of the Breslov branch of Hasidic Judaism. .

As the Kovid-19 cases in the country ticked off, Ukraine closed its borders last month, blocking pilgrimages that typically bring tens of thousands of people, many of them from Israel. Israeli health officials have supported Ukraine’s decision.

According to the Ukrainian Border Guard Service, pilgrims began crossing the border with Belarus on Monday afternoon. Authorities in Belarus let the group pass, and they gathered on a road in the buffer area between the two border stations.

The men tried to persuade the border guards to celebrate the New Year, the most important religious holiday for the Hadim. The younger boys, looking bored and sleepy, stood and watched.

After the announcement of Belarus, pilgrims crossed the Novi Yarlovich border, it was open, Israel public broadcasting Said in a tweet. But the border was closed. Ukrainian officials said that pilgrims had already been warned about closing the border.

Ukraine’s Border Guard Service said 690 pilgrims had gathered at the border by Tuesday, and agency director Serhi Deneko said more was expected on charter flights arriving in Belarus. Belarusian media reported a different number of pilgrims on the border, saying that around 1,500 had already arrived.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, said the border closure would be implemented. A statement from the President’s office said, “The State Border Service has sufficient forces and means for reliable security of the state border.” The guards were reinforcing the border with a secondary barrier, several hundred yards inside Ukraine.

Ukraine on Tuesday reported 2,905 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours. The country’s ban on foreign visitors established last month is in force until 28 September.

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