Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday cautioned religious Jews against traveling to Ukraine at this time, noting that “God hasn’t always protected the Jewish people in Europe.” His ultra-Orthodox Jewish coalition partners were not happy about the remark.
Every Rosh Hashanah, tens of thousands of religious Jews make a pilgrimage to Uman, Ukraine, where Rabbi Nachman of Breslov is buried.
There was some concern over the security situation in Ukraine would allow for such an influx of tourists this year. Netanyahu last week worked out the details with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but said Israelis should still think twice about making the trip at this time.
“Israeli citizens who are traveling to Ukraine must take personal responsibility for their travel at this time,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “God has not always protected us, not on European soil and not on Ukrainian soil,” he added, stressing that Ukrainian cities do not currently have enough bomb shelters for their own residents in the event of a Russian missile strike.
The rabbis who lead the coalition’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party were outraged by the prime minister’s remarks.
“God always protected the Jewish people during persecution, this is the reason that the Jewish nation is the only one which has miraculously survived for thousands of years,” read a statement released by the party on Sunday evening.
“Of course, the condition for divine providence is adherence to faith and observance,” the statement continued, acknowledging that the Jewish people have indeed suffered, but as a direct result of their sins.
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