Next Year in Uman: A Journey to the Ukraine
Every year, an increasing number of Jews from every walk of life, from all over the world, converge in Uman, a small, unremarkable city in the Central Ukraine. They spend “Rosh Hashana” (the Jewish New Year) united in meditation and prayer, at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov – a spiritual seer of the 17th century who is revered to this day as the one and only leader of the Breslov Chassidic movement. His teachings have resonated over time, and created a ripple effect that seems to grow stronger with each passing year. In 1991 (just following Perestroika), only 250 devout Breslov adherents traveled to Uman. In 2009, over 25,000 made the trip.
For the past six years, I have joined this pilgrimage – camera in hand – to document this uniquely moving and increasingly spectacular event. The festival-like atmosphere is part Woodstock and part Mount Sinai: with dancing, singing, eating, drinking and a spirit of communal prayer.
This photography project documents the wonders to be experienced in Uman. Images range from men at prayer to children at play, from quiet moments of individual introspection to massive throngs of men worshipping in the streets.
There is an eerie dissonance in this mass of Jews returning to pray in Ukraine 65 years after the devastation of the Holocaust. The juxtaposition of these subjects captured in sepia tones, praying in a forlorn Ukrainian town, indeed hearken back to the lost era of the shtetl, and echo the images captured by Roman Vishniak in his journeys across pre-war Europe.
This project ran as a solo museum show at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art from April - August 2011.
Category:Travel and Places
Keywords:Breslov, Jewish, Na Nach, Rosh Hashana,, Ukraine, Uman, Vishniak, meditation, pilgrimage, prayer, sepia, travel
Your photos are beautiful, a true reflection of you! Yasher Koach.
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© Ahron D. Weiner