Jewish pilgrims turned back from Ukrainian border

Ukraine (MNN) — At least 1,000 Hasidic Jews have turned back to Israel after being stuck between the border of Ukraine and Belarus. They camped out by the border for several days, hoping the Ukrainian authorities would relent and let them in. Ukraine, however, sent extra border police to make sure no one crossed.

Each year, Hasidic Jewish pilgrims visit the Ukrainian grave of a well-known Rabbi that revived Hasidic Judaism in the late 1700s, Nachman of Breslov. Due to differing COVID-19 restrictions, Belarus let them through, but Ukraine did not. Israel also asked that pilgrims not be allowed into Ukraine, concerned they could catch and spread COVID-19.

Jewish History in Ukraine

Eric Mock of Slavic Gospel Association says,“Ukraine is not one of the first countries that you would consider as being the home of a large Jewish population, but it’s actually home to the third-largest Jewish population in Europe, and the fifth-largest in the world. There’s a history in Ukraine that goes back all the way to the original beginnings of the Kievan Rus in the 11th century. You saw a migration of Jews who were involved in various settlements. At one point, there was quite a large population.”

But this history has also been a difficult one, as Jews have often faced persecution. “Some of your listeners might remember Fiddler on the Roof and the Soviet Pogrom. They were trying to move Jews out of Soviet territory. Along with the many Jews that were killed, many were forced out at the time.”

Through local SGA-supported churches, SGA ministers to many Jewish communities in Ukraine. Mock says these believers are passionate about sharing Christ with Orthodox Jewish people. Pray this ministry will bring many to Christ.

The header image shows the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the spot the pilgrims were trying to reach. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: Lord Mountbatten / Public domain)

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