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Aug 19, 2020

Uman or Oman, let my people go

Kikar is reporting that the Agudat Yisrael faction of UTJ sent a letter today to Prime Minister Netanyahu complaining about the situation regarding travel to Uman for Rosh Hashana. 

The saga is ongoing with no solution in sight and no decision yet made as to whether or not to allow thousands of chassidim to travel to Uman. Recent comments by politicians and the Corona projector have indicated a more pessimistic approach as the number of Corona cases in the Ukraine have recently spiked upward.

So, they sent a letter, in the name of Breslaver hassidim and a large community of people who go every year to daven on the grave of Rebbe Nachman in Uman and stay for Rosh Hashana,  to Netanyahu demanding a solution.

They demand he get involved and delve into the matter and find a solution - a solution that will be in line with Health Ministry orders and in line with regulations by any other relevant factors, but will allow them to travel to and from Uman without risking their health.

Further, they note, every Israeli citizen is able to travel to and from Israel, while adhering to Ministry of Health guidelines in regards to quarantine, so prohibiting Israelis from traveling to Uman is discrimination and the State cannot discriminate against so many Israeli travelers.

So, I don't think it is discrimination. Israelis can travel to other countries that allow Israelis into, and that Israel allows travel to. If Ukraine enters the red list, or if Ukraine is deemed problematic because of a specific event that can be considered problematic form a health perspective, it is not discriminatory to ban that travel.

Also, I do not think it is Netanyahu's or anyone else's obligation to find them a way to travel that doe snot put them at risk - it is each person's own responsibility. The State is saying it is too dangerous. It is not the State's obligation to find a way for you to go to another country to a mass congregation event, and to ensure your well-being. You want to go, consider the risks and decide to go or not and how you will protect yourself. This whole thing of dumping it on the State and turning it into their responsibility is sad. The State is already saying (for now) that there is no safe way to go.

All that being said, I don't think the State should ban the travel. If Ukraine is willing to let them in, let this be Ukraine's problem. Make strict health guidelines for travel to Ukraine. 14 days quarantine required, perhaps a negative covid test before returning. Maybe some other restrictions. All that in addition to whatever restrictions Ukraine slaps on them, such as health insurance and quarantine and whatever else. Threats of massive fines for breaking quarantine, with strict inspections. But if after all that they still want to go, let them go. I see no reason Israel has to meddle into an event that is being held in the Ukraine. Just make it difficult, but not impossible, to come back into Israel.

And anybody who goes anyway and says they will stick to the rules - when they come back, follow up with them. Send inspectors every other day, give out massive fines. Keep them locked up for Yom Kippur and Sukkos, as part of their quarantine (obviously having told them of this in advance)... and let them go. Let them be and let them do what they want. I see no reason Israel should be involved in this at this stage.

And maybe if it does not work out for Uman this year, they can go to Oman instead under the peace deal that is expected to happen soon in the wake of the UAE deal.... and in the immortal words of Mordechai Ben David... Let My People Go

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  1. Let them go, but who wants them back in Israel? Do you seriously think they would have any thought of staying in quarantine when they return? Let them go to Uman with the regulation that they must stay there for a minimum of 30 days.

    1. that's why i say warn them in advance about strict enforcement with massive fines. but I am good with making them stay there for 30 days as well

  2. Or we can just mevatel this silly minhag, and they can daven in their local shuls as Jews have been doing for millenia.

  3. At first I thought this was a very thoughtful analysis, but then I read what you wrote -- that the returnees would be in quarantine for YK and the beginning of Sukkot. Since this will assuredly not happen...oh, well.

    1. not sure what you mean. as of the rules now, quarantine is 14 days. if they return from uman a few days after rosh hashana, 14 days includes YK and at least the beginning of sukkos. That is without even making the rules stricter for them - just the basics that apply to everybody right now.

    2. The same AnonymousAugust 21, 2020 12:31 AM

      You really think that people who would spend RH in Uman would follow the rules (that they technically agreed to) and stay home on YK?


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