(JTA) — Thousands of Jewish pilgrims are leaving Ukraine, where their weeklong stay in Uman resulted in a fire, power shortages, a sewage flood and several arrests.
In one incident, three Israeli police officers who were sent to Uman to help police the estimated 26,000 Jewish pilgrims who congregate every year ahead of the Jewish New Year near the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman, founder of the Breslov hasidic movement, reportedly scuffled last week with locals while off duty.
According to Israel’s Channel 10, one of the officers sustained minor injuries. The officers were sent back to answer for the incident.
Pilgrims from Israel started a fire inside their rented apartment after they had an indoor barbecue, according to Alexander Gorobech, a firefighter who was stationed in Uman as part of a special deployment. Gorobech told the Ukrainian ICTV television station that the men who lit the fire were handed over to the Israeli police detachment.
An apartment block on Pushkin Street lost power for nearly one day because of an overload in consumption by Jewish pilgrims, according to Segodnya.ua.
On the same street in a different apartment building block, pilgrims caused the sewage system to overflow and flood the municipality’s social services center, according to Ukrainian media, including the news site Svodka.net. The visitors flushed diapers and hygienic pads down the toilet, the reports said, resulting in a flood that caused severe damage to the municipal offices located in the basement of the building.
A Jewish visitor was arrested after being spotted smoking marijuana by Ukrainian police, according to a statement by the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Several of his friends confronted officers, but the encounter did not turn violent, according to the news website Unian.net.
On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Sept. 4, Ukrainian police divers rescued a Jewish pilgrim who fell into a flooded quarry, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. The drowning man was unconscious when divers pulled him from the water but regained consciousness following an emergency resuscitation procedure.
According to Segodniya.ua, Jewish pilgrimage this year broke the record set in 2011, when Uman saw 26,000 arrivals, but the Russian Jewish Congress said in a statement that attendance was lower than in previous years.