Ukraine, Uman, September 25, 2014
Hasidic men pray by a lake near Rabbi Nachman's grave on the day of Rosh Hashanah in the Ukrainian city of Uman. Some swim and fish in the lakes, which they believe hold special significance due to their proximity to the grave. The cross was erected last year by Uman city officials, much to the annoyance of the Jewish pilgrims, who saw it as an act of provocation. 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 countries. This Rosh Hashanah marks the year 5775.
Photo: Joel van Houdt