Travelers to Uman to test before boarding plane home

Minister Matan Kahana presents plan to allow hasidim to travel to Uman for Rosh Hashanah. 'This year, there will be no discrimination.'

Hezki Baruch ,

Matan Kahana
Matan Kahana
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) on Sunday will present for the Coronbavirus Cabinet's approval a plan for the upcoming pilgrimage by Breslov hasidim to Ukraine, ahead of the Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) holiday.

Thousands of Breslov hasidim traditionally travel to Uman, Ukraine, each year, to spend Rosh Hashana at the gravesite of their leader Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

Under Kahana's plan, travelers - including those vaccinated and recovered - will be required to test for coronavirus up to 72 hours prior to the flight to Uman, and again prior to the flight from Uman to Israel.

In addition, those returning to Israel will fill out a quarantine form, up to 24 hours before their flight back to Israel. Upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport, all those returning will undergo an additional coronavirus test. They will then be required to quarantine for 14 days, or for seven days if they perform an additional coronavirus test and it comes back negative.

"We learned lessons from the mistakes that were made last year," Kahana said. "This year, therefore, there will be no discrimination against a specific sector. The plan which we made will allow travel to Uman while keeping the rules which will allow health security."

On Wednesday, coronavirus czar Professor Salman Zarka told haredi media: "We are in a war, and there will be a need to tighten the belt. We want to reach the people who did not get vaccinated, both with your help and with that of the rabbis. Eliminating the virus is an irrelevant fantasy right now - the virus is here and it seems it will remain with us."

Prof. Zarka also noted that 12% of new cases are from the haredi sector, and called to advance vaccines for youth: "The vaccination rate among those 12-18 is a big challenge. It is great protection, that we could have for the entire public but especially for the haredi community, which lives in highly dense areas, it's very important."