Ukraine, Uman, September 24, 2014
A father prays with his young son at the synagogue containing the grave of Rabbi Nachman, tradition dictates that boys make the pilgrimage before they turn seven. Makeshift synagogues dotted about the Jewish enclosure overflow with pilgrims in the Ukrainian city of Uman. There are plans to build a permanent, two-storey synagogue opposite, but organisers said they are yet to secure funding. Rabbi Nachman, founder of the Hasidic Breslov movement, taught his followers to vanquish sadness through private prayer and celebration. On his deathbed in 1810, he asked that Jews visit his grave annually to mark Rosh Hashanah. After the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, what had been a trickle of pilgrims exploded into tens of thousands. The grave is off limits to women and non-Jews during Rosh Hashanah, when it is constantly thronged by pilgrims, many come from Israel but also other parts of the world. This Rosh Hashanah marks the year 5775.
Photo: Joel van Houdt