Israel will open a temporary consulate in Uman for the first time during Rosh Hashanah, when at least 30,000 Jews perform a pilgrimage to the Ukrainian city.
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem announced the move Tuesday, stating the diplomat working from the temporary consulate will “address urgent consular matters like stolen or lost travel documents and any other emergency assistance extended by Israeli embassies worldwide.”
The temporary consulate is located at the compound containing the grave of Rabbi Nachman, an 18th-century Hasidic leader, whose burial site is the focal point of the celebration at the Jewish new year.
As in previous years, Israeli police will also send officers to Uman for the duration of the holiday to help local authorities maintain order.
On Tuesday eight drunk passengers traveling from Tel Aviv to Uman had to be removed from a plane by police, causing the Ukraine International Airlines flight to be delayed for three hours, the Ynet news site reported.
The passengers reportedly showed up to the flight drunk, attacked cabin staff physically and verbally and fought with police who had been hastily summoned.
“Every year there are many incidents with passengers traveling to Uman,” a senior source at Ben Gurion airport told the news site. “There are passengers who arrive to the plane drunk, or even drugged; there are those who arrive with plastic bags instead of suitcases. Some travelers arrive for the flight without tickets and ask for ‘generosity’ from other passengers; and many of them arrive for the flight literally at the last moment, as if it were a bus.”
Authorities in Ukraine have improved access to Uman in recent years, and plans are underway for reopening an unused military airport near the city for direct flights. Uman, a city of 70,000 residents, is located in central Ukraine, 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Kiev and 320 kilometers (200 miles) south of Odessa.
Last year, a record 40,000 Bratslav pilgrims made the trek to Uman.
The pilgrimage has created frequent friction between the predominantly Israeli pilgrims and locals, many of whom resent the cordoning off of neighborhoods by police. Street brawls are not uncommon.
Another issue is the internal trade that develops among pilgrims, which some locals say eliminates the benefits that come with conventional tourism.