Daily Israel Report

Breslover Chassid Murdered Near Rabbi Nachman's Tomb in Uman

A 19-year-old Breslov Chossid is murdered by Ukrainian thugs near the grave of his Rebbe in Uman, just two months before he was to be married.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 9/26/2010, 10:07 AM / Last Update: 9/26/2010, 9:54 AM

On the 200th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Nachman, founder of the Breslov Chassidic movement, the fourth day of Sukkot, a young follower about to start a new life instead was murdered by Ukrainians in Uman.

The 19-year-old Israeli, Shmuel Tuvol, had come with his brother Refoel to pray at the grave of his Rebbe, whose leadership to this day continues to guide the Chassidic sect.

The two brothers were staying at a home owned by their family in Kiryat Breslov in Uman, near Rabbi Nachman's tomb, when three Ukrainians began hurling rocks at the victim's car. Shmuel called Refael to help him as he was being pelted with stones, but suddenly found himself stabbed in the chest. 

“Refael, they stabbed me in the heart!,” he cried out to his brother, according to a report on the Hareidi site Chaderei Hareidim. The last words he heard his brother say before he lapsed into unconsciousness were: “I'm dying . . .”

Rushing to his aid, Shmuel's brother Refael was also attacked by the gang who beat him severely with a shovel. The three thugs also tried to stab the young Chassid, using the weapon they had used to murder his brother. Despite his injuries, Refael managed to wrest the shovel away, and knocked the knife out of their hands. As they fled, he called for help. 

Shmuel was pronounced dead on the operating table after he and his brother were rushed to the local hospital. Refael suffered wounds to the mouth and legs.

Two of the three attackers also later showed up at the hospital, seeking assistance for injuries suffered in the struggle. Because doctors had been updated about the incident, the police were immediately called, and the suspects were arrested.

A delegation comprised of ZAKA's Ukraine director, Rabbi Yaakov Zilberman, and Kiev Chief Rabbi Moshe Reuven Asman immediately came to the hospital to ensure there would be no desecration of Tuvol's body. Authorities are working to return the victim to Israel for burial. The police chief of Uman also opened an investigation into the murder, and vowed to apprehend the third killer. 

Each year, thousands of Breslov Chassidim make an annual pilgrimage to Uman to visit the tomb of Rabbi Nachman, the great-grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov (founder of the Chassidic movement).

No More Uman

Two years ago, Jewish teachers in the Ukraine were attacked by anti-Semites who beat with metal rods while screaming, “Kikes, leave Ukraine!” Less than a month before, a Ukrainian politician had also reportedly called for a “purge of Jews” who he said had “seized power” in Ukraine.

A number of  Israeli rabbis oppose traveling to Uman for the Jewish holidays in the Hebrew month of Tishrei, contending it is forbidden to quit the Holy Land for the Diaspora during such holy days.

Moreover, at least one group of Breslov Chassidim, however, decided this year not to make the traditional annual trip to Uman.

Instead, the Chassidim visited the tomb of Rabbi Yisrael Oddesser, a student of Rabbi Nachman, who according to the group's tradition, was considered the spiritual descendant of the Rebbe.

Uman is irrelevant, according to the group, which quotes Rabbi Nachman as saying, “Wherever I go, I'm going to the Land of Israel.”