Israel shocked as revered rabbi’s grave in Ukraine desecrated with pig head, fake blood
The malicious act occurred in the Ukrainian town of Uman on Tuesday night, the sexton of the synagogue, Rabbi Yisrael Elhadad, told the Ynet news website. There were five or six worshipers at the site when two attackers arrived and sprayed them with tear gas, he said. Two people were taken to hospital for treatment after the attack.
Pictures from the scene show red paint that looks like blood smeared across the floor and walls of the synagogue. Several pieces of pig, including a head with a swastika carved in it, were left behind by the assailants. Elhadad described them as neo-Nazis and said they were shouting anti-Semitic slogans during the attack.
No arrests were immediately made after the incident, which local police are investigating as an act of hooliganism, Ukrainian TV news channel 112 reported.
Israeli officials and politicians have expressed outrage over the anti-Semitic attack and demanded a thorough investigation.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, said he would contact Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to urge him to “act swiftly act against the hooligans and increase security.”
“I was shocked to the very core to hear of the terrible and barbaric desecration that was done last night at the holy site of Rabbi Nachman from Bratslav,” he said, according to Israel’s Channel 2.
Yesh Atid Party Chairman Yair Lapid has urged the Ukrainian Ambassador in Israel, Gennadiy Nadolenko, to investigate the incident and demanded that the Ukrainian government act quickly to ensure the security of the many Jewish pilgrims in Uman.
“I was shocked this morning to hear about the sickening and violent anti-Semitic attack, which occurred at the grave-site of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav,” Lapid said as cited by the Jerusalem Post. He described the incident as “unacceptable and reminiscent of the darkest days of the history of the Jewish people in Europe.”
Atid said he expects the Ukrainian government to condemn the incident.
Rabbi Nachman, founder of the Breslov sect of Hasidism, was born in the city of Medzhybizh in 1772 and died in 1810 in Uman. About 150,000 people visit his grave every year, according to the Jerusalem Post, with attendance peaking during the Jewish New Year. The pilgrims are a major source of income for the small city with about 85,000 residents.