A guide to Rebbe Nachman's
Rosh HaShanah in Uman


A guide to Rebbe Nachman's
Rosh HaShanah in Uman


Copyright (c) 1992 Breslov Research Institute
All Rights Reserved
ISBN NUMBER 0-930213-43-2

The cover depicts the colors of the rainbow, the entire spectrum of those who are drawn to Rebbe Nachman's teachings.

The words are from a popular song "Uman, Uman Rosh Hashanah" showing the Breslover Chasid's fervent desire to be in Uman for Rosh HaShanah.

Cover: Benzion Solomon
Photos: Elli-Moshe Kline


1. Uman Uman...
2. Rebbe Nachman
3. Rosh HaShanah
4. A Little History
5. The Rebbe's Rosh HaShanah Today
6. Getting Ready
7. Why Me?
8. A Prayer
9. To the Point
10. How to Register

1. Uman Uman...

It was his last Rosh HaShanah in this world. He knew it, but no one wanted to believe it. It was too soon ... He wasn't even 40 years old. Normally, he would begin preparing for his Rosh HaShanah talk the first morning of the holiday. He would start speaking late in the afternoon and go on well into the evening of the second day. But this Rosh HaShanah the tuberculosis he had struggled against for nearly three years began to get the upper hand. just as his preparations should have begun, he began coughing up blood. The attack was extremely violent. Night came, and still it continued. Hundreds and hundreds of people were waiting in the synagogue, hoping and praying that he would come to give his lesson. "What can I tell you?" he had said earlier, "nothing is greater than to be with me for Rosh HaShanah."

At last, he came. He was extremely weak. He sat for some time, and then he started in a very low voice. It was against all the laws of nature that he would be able to finish. The crush from the crowd was tremendous. Several people fainted. Still, somehow, he continued. He spoke about the future: how the whole world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d, and all will see that everything is under His Providence, everything is miraculous. The whole of creation will sing a new song of love and kindness... It was his last Rosh HaShanah lesson, his last lesson ever. Near the end of his talk, he stated to everyone there: "No matter from what city you come, my followers should return home and say: "Whoever believes in G-d should come to Rebbe Nachman for Rosh HaShanah"."

Two weeks later he lay in bed, dressed in his best robe. Someone arranged his clothing and washed the blood from his beard. He rolled a ball of wax between his fingers with the utmost delicacy, composing his thoughts. An unusually strong gale ripped through the town of Uman, tearing out rocks from the hillside. The sukkah outside the house blew down. Somewhere else, a fire suddenly broke out. They thought he was gone. Someone cried out, "Rebbe! Rebbe! To whom have you left us?" But he heard, he was still with them. He lifted his head with an expression that said, "I am not leaving you, G-d forbid!"

Soon after that he breathed his last. Some of the people there said they had seen people die peacefully but they'd never seen anything quite like this. There was a great commotion in the room. People began sobbing loudly. The following day, thousands of mourners attended the funeral. Rebbe Nachman was buried, on October 17, 1810, in the place he had chosen: the old cemetery in Uman, amidst the 20,000 Jewish martyrs who had been massacred in the town at the hands of the Haidemacks some forty years earlier.

* * *

September 1991. In the space of just a few days, over ten loaded charters have flown into Kiev International Airport from Israel alone. Other groups have flown in via Moscow from Britain, France, Belgium, the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Australia... Still others have taken different routes: by train from Warsaw, in buses from Bucharest... All are converging on... UMAN!

The eve of Rosh HaShanah. No one with even the most elementary grasp of history could fail to be amazed at the sight of hundreds uponhundreds of observantjewishmen walking through the streets of this backward provincial Ukrainian town some three hours drive south of Kiev. The locals stare in amazement. The "Iron Curtain" has crumbled. The focus of everyone's interest is a most unlikely looking spot in the middle of a drab residential area overlooked by some gray high-rise apartment blocks. A few locals hurryby on their way to work or to the market. Children play, oblivious to the significance of the spot. Outside a pair of wooden gates to the yard of what could be any old ivy-covered suburban house, quite a crowd is gathered, with animated conversations taking place in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, Russian... A variety of local types try to change currency, peddle trinkets, offer trips in private cars, etc. Two policemen placidly look on.

You move through the crowd into the back yard of the house. It is dense with a throng of souls of every description, buzzing with spiritual energy. Many are in black hats and coats, others in executive suits, some in shirtsleeves, jeans and Reeboks or other garb. There are old and young, down to small boys with long, flowing payos (sidecurls). Every single person present has brought his own history - his own unique story - of what drew him here to Uman for Rosh HaShanah at Rebbe Nachman's gravesite. The crowd is thickest near the grave itself, a simple marble structure next to the outer wall of the house. It is the only remaining sign that this was once a cemetery. The intensity is gripping. Everyone is either praying or reciting psalms or studying or pouring out his heart in his own words - the approach to G-d that Rebbe Nachman favored the most. It is impossible to remain unmoved.

Dozens of apartments have been rented in nearby buildings to house the visitors. Down the road from the gravesite, less than two hundred and fifty yards away, stands a large factory that has been made over to house the Breslover Chassidim for Rosh HaShanah. Only five years before the whole idea would have been unthinkable! In Soviet Russia? A huge production hall has been converted into a synagogue accommodating over two thousand daveners. Other halls have been turned into dormitories full of army bunk beds. In the kitchen area, a team of plastic aproned chassidim busily prepares plentiful quantities of kosher food specially flown in from Israel, including challahs, fish, salads, soup, chicken... even the Rosh HaShanah specialties, the simonim - apple and honey, pomegranate, beetroot, black-eye beans, etc. The pride of the site is a tiled, heated mikveh, built in the space of a few days by local workmen.

"executive suits and jeans...."

6.00 p.m. The golden afternoon sun fades away and dusk descends. The preparations for Yom Tov are complete. Many are dressed in their kitels - the traditional white robe. The synagogue is packed to overflowing. At last the moment has arrived. The chazzan sings out the awesome, joyous call to bless the Creator of the World: Bor'chu... And the entire congregation bursts into a fervent, resonating response that lasts and lasts. The Rebbe's Rosh HaShanah has begun.

"plastic-aproned chassidim"

2. Rebbe Nachman

The whole idea sounds a little strange at first - leaving home to spend one of the most important days in the Jewish calendar near a gravesite in a small town somewhere in the Ukraine. What is it about Uman that attracts over two and a half thousand men from literally all over the world to spend Rosh HaShanah a way from wives, children, family, regular synagogue, home-cooked Yom Tov meals ... ? The answer perhaps lies in a rather simple yet often misunderstood concept - the Tzaddik. Outside of chassidic circles, when asked "What exactly is a Tzaddik?" some might answer, "A saintly individual," "a very good person," "someone very religious," etc. Yet this still doesn't explain the force that propels not only life-long chassidim, but Jews from all backgrounds and ways of life, to a place like Uman, where Rebbe Nachman chose to spend the last six months of his life.

There is a common misconception that the idea of the Tzaddik was introduced by the founders of the chassidic movement. While there are certain aspects of the Tzaddik's role which had their beginnings with the Baal Shem Tov and his followers (though many of them, such as dynasties, dress codes and the like have no place in Rebbe Nachman's teachings), the concept of the righteous individual and his greatness has always been a part of Judaism. From Moses, Joshua and the Judges onward, each generation has had its own Tzaddikim, spiritual giants, men who would lead, teach and guide the people. It would take literally a whole book just to quote from the Talmud, Midrash and Zohar about the greatness of the Tzaddikim. However, just as our understanding of the Torah has diminished through history, so too has our appreciation of the role of the Tzaddik, ironically just when we need it the most.

Connecting Heaven and Earth

The Tzaddik is one who attains such a level of self-mastery and spirituality that all his thoughts, feelings and actions - his very being are in total consonance with G-d's will. This gives him a uniquely close relationship with G-d. In essence, what distinguishes the Tzaddik from anyone else is that he has an unparalleled mastery of the spiritual, which gives him the ability to bridge the physical and spiritual worlds. Yet for all his spirituality, he is, and remains, a human being. This indeed is his strength. He is able to channel Torah spirituality into this world, and guide others as to how to serve G-d.

Does this mean that the Tzaddik is an intermediary? Well, yes and no. First of all G-d forbid that anyone should think he needs a medium between the Almighty and himself; not from his side and certainly not from G-d's. Furthermore, G-d forbid that anyone should think he needs someone else to carry out some form of devotion on his behalf so as to somehow absolve him from fulfilling his own religious duties. We are- all able, and indeed required, to accept responsibility for our own lives and deeds and to take practical steps to develop our own personal relationship with G-d. If the Tzaddik is an intermediary, it is only in the sense that, having succeeded in conquering the physicality of this world, he is able to be an agent or catalyst for bringing spirituality down into it Through his efforts and attainments, a Tzaddik knows what is necessary in order to serve G-d in a true and proper manner. The average individual generally does not have a strong enough grasp of the spiritual to be able to perceive G-d's will clearly and know how to serve him in practice. He must therefore turn to someone who can guide him.

Do we always know what to do? Can we on our own know what direction to take? And what happens when we have estranged ourselves from G-d by our misdeeds? Even the Torah, as the instrument that conveys G-d's infinite wisdom to man, can actually mislead a person who tries to follow it without the benefit of true guidance and leadership! Which of us can honestly say that he is wise enough to look into the Torah and grasp exactly what is required of him? The Talmud, Midrash and Shulchan Arukh stress the importance of receiving from a teacher, so that one's understanding of Torah be clear. As the Talmud teaches: "Even one who has studied, as long as he has not received from a Talmid Chakham, a qualified teacher, is still considered an ignoramus" (Berachot 47a). The true Tzaddik can take the most elevated aspects of Godliness and bring them down to a level at which the simplest person can relate to them. The Tzaddik gives direction.

But how does Rebbe Nachman fit into all this? Rebbe Nachman has always been different things to different people. To his followers, the Breslover Chassidim, he is simply "The Rebbe," their prime source of spiritual guidance in the quest for G-d. Some know him as a master storyteller: his tales are counted among the great classics of Jewish literature. To countless others, Rebbe Nachman is an outstanding chassidic teacher, the great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, an ever-fresh source of inspiration, whose lessons, conversations, parables and epigrams continue to electrify and inspire until today, expressing the wisdom of the Torah in a totally original way, opening up whole new vistas in every area of life. Rebbe Nachman's optimistic message - serve G-d with simplicity and joy - strikes a deep chord in many who have found themselves on the fringes of the Jewish people, as well as "lifers" born and raised in observant homes.

Born in 1772, Rebbe Nachman was only eighteen when he first began to attract a following. Many of his chassidim were outstanding scholars and kabbalists in their own right, some of them far older than he. Rebbe Nachman was only thirty-eight when he passed away in 1810, but even afterwards his influence remained potent. His teachings spread by word of mouth, and especially with the printing of his writings. Today his ideas are studied by both Jews and non-Jews, and have been the subject of a growing body of literature, academic and popular, in English, French, Russian, Yiddish, and of course - Hebrew.

Why Uman?

The name of the Breslover Chassidim comes from the town of Breslov, where Rebbe Nachman spent most of the last eight years of his life. That being the case, where does Uman come in? Why did he particularly want to be buried there? Nobody can claim to know exactly what was in Rebbe Nachman's mind. Still, if we transport ourselves about two hundred years back in time and take a look at what Uman stood for then, a coherent picture begins to emerge. In a certain sense, Uman was a place of opposites. In 1768, forty-two years before Rebbe Nachman passed away, Uman, then under Polish rule, was a garrison town. With the advance of an army of rebellious Haidemacks, thousands upon thousands of Jews from all the surrounding areas fled to the town for safety. When the Haidemacks arrived at the gates, the governor gave them access if they would agree to spare all the gentiles in exchange for the Jews. The Haidemacks entered, set up a cross, and offered the Jews a choice between conversion and death. Without exception they chose death. In the space of three days some 20,000 were slain. Their martyrdom brought about a great sanctification of G-d's name.

When Rebbe Nachman once passed through Uman - eight years before he died he took special note of its cemetery, praising it in the most glowing terms. "How beautiful it would be to buried in this cemetery," he said. But by then Uman was notorious for a new kind of Jew, one whose outlook was almost diametrically opposed to that of the 20,000 martyrs. Paradoxically, Uman had become one of the first centers of the Haskalah, or "Enlightenment" movement, in Russia.

Although it was in Germany that the Haskalah had first developed, it was now beginning to spread eastward to what had for centuries been the bastion of Ashkenazic jewry: Poland, the Ukraine and Russia. This was a time of unprecedented philosophical explosion in which many of the ideas that had previously defined man's place in the world were shattered. Leading intellectuals resented the notion that man is subservient to G-d; they wanted to sever all links with the Divine. This took its toll on the Jewish world. Traditionally, religious debates had centered on how to fulfill the mitzvos of the Torah - for instance, the Shema: at what hour is it to be recited, sitting or standing, etc. Now however, this changed, and people started questioning the very necessity of reciting the Shema as well as praying the other mitzvos.

Unlike today, there was no such thing then as an "Orthodox" Jew - one was either a Jew or not. Owing to outside hostility, most Jews had little choice but to live in their own closed communities. But in the new political climate in Europe, "equality" was now being offered to all, even the Jews. For the first time they could gain admission to non-Jewish society and culture! But, the price was high: the tallis and tefillin had to be discarded at the gate. It was the ultimate challenge to that generation's leaders, who fought to innovate ways to preserve Torah-observance against the sweeping tide of assimilation. But for many, the promise of "full equality" proved too enticing to resist and they pursued it with all their might. Rebbe Nachman made a chilling statement to his followers: "We are now at the end of the Jewish people, their outer limit. This is the point where the boundary of the Jewish people ends... When the jewish people reaches this point they are very far from G-d" (Tzaddik #92).

The assimilationists in Uman were led by a clique of three. Rebbe Nachman was the only chassidic leader who was able to communicate with them, and they themselves invited him to move to Uman. He told them that now was not the time, but when he finally came to the town to die eight years later, he would spend hours with them - playing chess, etc., much to the wonderment of his followers. He used to talk to them about every subject under the sun ... except Torah. Yet one of them, Hirsch Ber, said that each conversation with the Rebbe was as if he were telling him, "There is a G-d." Later, after the Rebbe's death, Hirsch Ber told the Rebbe's foremost disciple, Reb Noson, "You have lost the Rebbe? We have lost the Rebbe! If the Rebbe had lived, we would have repented completely and become Tzaddildm" (Until the Meshiach, p.206).

"I want to stay among you!"

Rebbe Nachman's lifetime came at a crossroads in history. just beginning was the industrial revolution that has so totally transformed our material life, unleashing the most amazing, hitherto undreamed of possibilities for both good and evil. Perhaps even more fateful was the burgeoning ideological revolution, which was to shake the entire framework of beliefs and assumptions on which people had based their lives. Standing on the threshold of the modem age, Rebbe Nachman said: "I'll tell you a secret. A great wave of atheism is about to enter the world" (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #220).

One of Rebbe Nachman's main purposes was to throw out life rafts to those who would become engulfed in the massive impending ideological torrent. Rebbe Nachman had a profound grasp of the alienation, the anguish and the despair so characteristic of the modem age. Hero after hero in his stories spends years wandering through vast forests, deserts, wildernesses and the like, searching and searching... Again and again Rebbe Nachman addresses such contemporary issues as anxiety, frustration, depression, disease ... He saw clearly that further sophistication was no answer. "The greatest wisdom of all," he said, "is to be simple." He stressed faith, joy and looking for the good. "Gevalt!" he cried. "Don't give up!!!"

Rebbe Nachman wanted the fire of his Torah to keep burning brightly. For eight years he nurtured his disciple, Reb Noson, imbuing him with his spirit and guiding him as to how to spread it in the world. Reb Noson later printed all of Rebbe Nachman's teachings. He established regular gatherings of the Breslover Chassidim. He built the first Breslover synagogues. And through his own voluminous writings he encouraged, and continues to encourage, countless Jews to follow Rebbe Nachman's pathways with strength and joy.

Yes, Rebbe Nachman certainly wanted his influence to remain alive in the world. But when he said to his followers, "I want to stay among you," he meant something more specific. From the time he first became sick with tuberculosis, he started talking more and more about his gravesite. He spoke about the possibility of going to die in the holy Land, or of traveling to Lemberg (Lvov), where many other great Rabbis were buried. When he finally settled on Uman, one of the reasons he gave his followers was that it would be easy for them to travel to his gravesite.

The Talmud states that the Tzaddikim are greater after their passing than during their lifetime (Chullin 7b). Personally the Tzaddik has no need for this material world. His only mission is to bring people back to G-d. But during his physical lifetime the Tzaddik is limited, by his body: though he constantly strives to negate his being in G-d's infinity in order to accomplish his mission, he can only do so intermittently, because he cannot leave his physical body. After his physical death, however, his soul remains permanently absorbed in G-d's infinity, making him all the more capable of rectifying the world.

The practice of visiting the graves of the Tzaddikim is an ancient one. When the spies entered the Land of Israel, we are told, "And they ascended from the south, and he came to Hebron" (Numbers 13:22). Since there were twelve spies, why does the verse say "he came to Hebron"? Rashi (ad loc.) explains that this refers to Caleb. "He wanted to be saved from the counsel of the spies, so he went there alone to prostrate himself at the graves of the Patriarchs." Even before this, we find that Jacob explained to Joseph why he buried Rachel at the roadside instead of taking her to Bethlehem. "This way she will be of help to her children when Nevuzaradan takes them into exile. They will pass by her grave, and Rachel will come forth and weep and entreat for mercy on their behalf" (Rashi, Genesis 48:7).

Rebbe Nachman made a promise that no other Tzaddik in the whole of Jewish history has ever made. Taking two of his closest followers as witnesses, he said: "When my days are ended and I leave this world, I will intercede for anyone who comes to my grave, recites the Ten Psalms of the General Remedy - the Tikkun HaKlali (The 10 specific chapters in the book of Psalms are: 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150. For further details, see Rabbi Nachman's Tikkun, Breslov Research Institute, 1984.) - and gives some charity. No matter how serious his sins and transgressions, I will do everything in my power to save him and cleanse him. I will span the length and breadth of the Creation for him. By his payos I will pull him out of Hell!" (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #141). "It makes no difference what he did until that day, as long as he undertakes not to return to his foolish ways from now on" (Tzaddik #122).

We are still trying to stay afloat today as we are being deluged with the ideological descendants of the haskalah. The seeds Rebbe Nachman planted are only now, 200 years later, beginning to show their full bloom. This is one of the reasons why to Breslovers, Rebbe Nachman is very much alive today. In a world with an over abundance of questions and too few answers, we can all profit from the veritable treasure that the Rebbe wants to give us. His ideas are addressed to all seeking generations, but in many ways they resonate clearest in this generation of intense spiritual searching. Although his wide appeal is attested to by the range of Jews who overcome all obstacles to spend Rosh HaShanah with him in Uman, his message is nonetheless felt as a deeply personal one. Now, having some idea of the awesomeness of what a tzaddik is and what he can accomplish, we begin to view the journey to Uman on Rosh HaShanah from a completely different perspective.

3. Rosh HaShanah

Rosh HaShanah is an extraordinary day. When you add Rebbe Nachman's unique flavor to it, the picture comes into sharp focus, enabling us to view the day with a new clarity. We suddenly realize that a Rosh HaShanah with the Rebbe is not one to be missed: it gives us a chance to tap into the intrinsic power of the day itself. And, with the Tzaddik's help, we can get the most possible benefit - opportunity awaits us. To help put this in perspective, traveling to the tzaddikim is hardly a new idea - our Sages allude to it in the Talmud. "In the time of the Holy Temple, the shofar was not heard on Shabbos except in the Temple [where the Sanhedrin sat]. When the Temple was destroyed, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai instituted the custom of sounding the shofar wherever a bet din (rabbinical court - the tzaddikim) convened" (Rosh HaShanah 29b). Thus the custom of traveling to spend Rosh HaShanah with the tzaddikim goes back thousands of years.

That his followers should travel to him for Rosh HaShanah was one of the things Rebbe Nachman was most emphatic about. "Although many other chassidim traveled to the Tzaddikim for Rosh HaShanah, there was no one who was as insistent about the matter as Rebbe Nachman" (Tzaddik #23). He said, "My Rosh HaShanah is completely new. G-d gave me the gift of knowing what Rosh HaShanah is" (ibid. #406). Rebbe Nachman said that on Rosh HaShanah he was able to help people in certain ways that he simply was not able to the rest of the year (Tzaddik #406). He put so much stress on the importance of his Rosh HaShanah that he exclaimed, "My very essence is Rosh HaShanah!" (ibid. #403).

The Head

Yet before we can fully appreciate the meaning of Rosh HaShanah with the Tzaddik, we first have to understand a little of what Rosh HaShanah itself is all about what sets this day apart from the rest of the year. Rosh HaShanah literally means the "head of the year." The year is like an organic entity, with a head, a heart, arms, legs and so on. The head is at the top - the first day of the year. Just as the head directs the body, so too, one's Rosh HaShanah will determine the outcome of the rest of the year. Thus, our Sages teach: "On Rosh HaShanah it is decreed what will be at the end of the year" (Rosh HaShanah 8b). Whatever takes place up till the very end of Elul, the last month in the Jewish calendar, was already decreed at its "head," at the very beginning of the year.

Rosh HaShanah has an entirely different character than Pesach, Shavuos or Sukkos. It is the "Day of Judgment." Our health, our wealth, indeed our very lives are at stake. In a sense, Rosh HaShanah is a repeat of Creation. In order to create anything new, there is always an element of judgment. What form should this new creation take? What will be best, taking all the different factors into account? Should we go ahead at all? Rosh HaShanah is no different. It requires, from G-d's side, a new creation: a New Year. The year to come has not yet been, and needs to be brought into existence. Creation. just as construction of a building requires a blueprint, so too, the construction of the year needs a specific plan. just as an architect draws up the blueprints for the building, so is G-d the architect for the year. His plans are prepared and drafted on Rosh HaShanah.

So Rosh HaShanah is not merely the first day of the Jewish calendar. It is the outline for the entire year. Aside from his many other considerations, Rebbe Nachman places paramount importance on Rosh HaShanah because he wants to impress upon us the significance of the "head" - what we can accomplish if we attempt to begin the year properly and have our "heads" - our thoughts - in the right place. Therefore, Rebbe Nachman teaches: We must be wise on Rosh HaShanah - we should only think good, positive thoughts: that G-d will be good to us and give us a good year, and that we will do our best to live the way we know we should. And, because Rosh HaShanah is associated with thought rather than speech, the Rebbe also counsels us to be very careful to speak as little as possible on the first day of Rosh HaShanah (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #21).

The Shofar

The Torah commands us to sound the ram's horn on Rosh HaShanah. The Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, as well as all the later writings, offer numerous insights to explain the connection. Among those upon which Rebbe Nachman puts particular emphasis are that the shofar blasts sweeten the severity of G-d's judgment (Likutey Moharan I:42), and that they arouse people from their spiritual sleep, preventing them from idling away their days (ibid. I:60). Hearing the shofar sounded by a man of true piety evokes awe of Heaven in the heart, putting extraneous fears and worries to flight and moving us to rejoice (ibid. I:5,3). Thus, when we include the blowing of the shofar by a pious person in the blueprint of our year, we can look forward to fear of Heaven and a joyous heart throughout the entire year.

Honey on the Apple

We can see now that Rosh HaShanah is the day that the rest of the year depends on -even the rest of the world. As the Rebbe said: "The entire world is dependent upon my Rosh HaShanah" (Tzaddik #405). So what is it that Rebbe Nachman wants us to gain from this day? Rosh HaShanah is actually a marvelous goodness to the world, and as the Rebbe teaches/ "G-d gave Rosh HaShanah out of great kindness" (Likutey Moharan 11, 1:14). When we begin to fathom the remarkable role that the tzaddik can play on this day, we realize why it is considered such a goodness and, in fact, presents us with a unique opportunity.

On Rosh HaShanah, all of creation comes before G-d to be judged (Rosh HaShanah 16a). We are judged for every act, every word, even every thought. If we truly believe this, we know that we have cause for concern. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berdichov used to say, "When Elul comes around, I feel the fear in My shoulders" (Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Rosen).

So what are we to do? Repent! Yes. But if things are as bad as we think they are, what chance do we have? The charge sheet may be pages long. The credit sheet is at best so-so. Rebbe Nachman teaches that people should travel to the Tzaddik for Rosh HaShanah. Why? Since decrees pertaining to the entire year am issued on Rosh HaShanah, this is the best time to mitigate and "sweeten" any decree. But how can this be done? Each individual decree has a precise and specific way of its own to be mitigated. A decree can only be sweetened at its source - found in a specific place in G-d's "thought" (the "Upper Wisdom"). If we want to turn every judgment into compassion and kindness, we need to rise to each one of these sources individually.

This is quite an undertaking for anyone, but Rebbe Nachman tells us that there is a level of Divine Wisdom where all individual wisdoms are merged in unity - an all-inclusive Wisdom so exalted that it encompasses the sources of all individual judgments. Since all individual decrees ultimately emanate from this all-inclusive Wisdom, someone who is able to rise to this level actually has the ability to sweeten all decrees without having to mitigate each and every one individually. Certain outstanding Tzaddikim have this power, and this is why people go to them for Rosh HaShanah. Each person comes with his individual problems, his personal limitations, his own good and bad. Because the Tzaddik can rise to the highest source, he can take each constriction, each judgment and decree, and sweeten it, and thus kindness and compassion are aroused for the entire year (Likutey Moharan I, 61:6,7).

Rosh HaShanah is a day of judgment, when dire decrees can be issued against a person or his family, G-d forbid. But it also contains its own antidote against strict judgment. Therefore, even if a person fell short of what he should have been during the year, he has a chance, a good chance, to make amends and begin afresh. The New Year brings with it an opportunity for a new start, so that even if the charge sheet is indeed long, the seemingly impossible task of setting everything right can be made much easier by traveling to the Tzaddik.

* * *

"Anyone who has the privilege of being with the Rebbe on Rosh HaShanah is entitled to be very, very happy" (Tzaddik #403).
* * *

A Little History

We have been witnessing remarkable events lately. "History" has suddenly come alive, and is no longer confined to school texts and dust-covered history books. The drama is continuing to unfold before our eyes in Eastern Europe and what was once the Soviet Union. Newspapers have been filled with pictures of one massive statue after another being toppled by a crowd that has had enough. We can't keep up with the dizzying pace of events that has put books, maps and even newspapers out of date before they are printed. In Uman - a tiny dot on the map - a gate has creaked open.

According to the normal scheme of things it should only have been a matter of time before the Breslov movement disappeared after Rebbe Nachman's passing. He did not leave a successor" as such. In most chassidic groups, when one Rebbe dies, a new one is chosen to succeed him, often his son or another close relative. Rebbe Nachman had two sons, but both died in infancy. There was no other candidate for Rebbe that his followers felt to be on anything like the same outstanding level as he was. One might have expected that the Rebbe followers would have eventually drifted apart and gone their separate paths.

Which indeed they could well have done had it not been for Reb Noson, only thirty at the time of the Rebbe's passing. After the Rebbe's burial that Sukkos of 1810, all the chassidim who had been with him in Uman journeyed back to their respective home towns to confront their private thoughts as the harsh Ukrainian winter set in. Although not the most senior of his chassidim, Reb Noson had been closest to the Rebbe during his lifetime, and was of course devastated by his early passing. He could not accept that this was the end of the story. As the weeks passed, all kinds of statements the Rebbe had made over the years kept running through his mind - especially about the power of visiting his gravesite. Within a few months, with the snow still thick on the ground, Reb Noson hired a carriage and journeyed from village to village picking up those who had been Rebbe Nachman's followers for their first pilgrimage to Uman to pray at the Rebbe's Tzion (grave) on Rosh Chodesh Shevat (January), 1811.

When Rebbe Nachman first became sick, he told his followers that if they would continue to follow his pathways and work to develop and purify themselves, even people who had not known him in his lifetime would become attached to them, and they in turn would make more followers "...for I have accomplished and I will accomplish." In the years after his passing, the Rebbe's promise began to come true. Ms leading followers all had many disciples of their own, and so the Breslov movement began to grow. Because of the draw of the Rebbe's Tzion, it was natural for Uman to become more and more of a focus. This was especially so after 1866, when Reb Noson's leading pupil, Reb Nachman of Tulchin, moved there. The Breslov community in Uman became a vibrant center of spirituality and devotion. Seeking Jews would travel to Uman from all over the Ukraine, White Russia, Lithuania and even as far away as Poland in search of the living Torah of Rebbe Nachman.

Rebbe Nachman's grave in 1922

Then the darkness descended. The Russian Revolution in 1917 made it ever more difficult to get to Uman. In 1919 successive waves of troops passing through the town perpetrated a series of pogroms in which hundreds of Jews lost their lives. The new Soviet regime made every effort to repress Jewish religious life, and in 1937, after years of persecution, the authorities finally closed the Breslover synagogue in Uman, converting it into a metalwork factory. When the Nazis marched into Uman in 1941, they deported the entire Jewish community, murdering some 17,000. They also made it their business to do as much damage as possible to the cemetery, attempting to blot out any memory of Jews, alive or dead. After the war, the Soviets announced that since the cemetery had been devastated the entire area would be given over for suburban housing.

That should have been it. But it wasn't. Under Stalin you did not put in an appeal to preserve a Jewish cemetery if you valued your life. Still, in the rubble left after the Nazi desecration, Reb Zavel Lubarski was able to find traces of two poles which had stood at the head and foot of the grave to support a rail. The plot of land containing Rebbe's grave was then acquired by a Breslover Chassid, Reb Daniel, the ger (convert). The exact position of the grave having been located, the house was designed in such a way that its exterior wall would run alongside it, and the grave was thus inconspicuously protected in the private yard of the house. After Reb Daniel emigrated to Israel, the house came into the hands of a non-Jewish couple, who have lived there ever since.

The successive ravages of the Bolsheviks and the Nazis and the rigors of Stalinism forced the remnants of the Breslover Chassidim in the Ukraine to go underground. Any visits they made to the Tzion had to be covert. But in the meantime those who had emigrated had established new Breslov centers in Israel and America, and these were expanding rapidly. Until the 1960s all access to Uman was completely barred to Jews from outside Russia, but that did not prevent people from studying and practicing Rebbe Nachman's teachings, and hearing from their elders about what Uman stood for.

Rebbe Nachman's grave in 1991 (click for 1996)

The first little chink in the "Iron Curtain" opened up in the summer of 1963, when a student of the late Rabbi Zvi Aryeh Rosenfeld met with Reb Michal Dorfman in Moscow and told him of his wish to travel to Uman, an impossibility at that time. Reb Michal agreed to meet him in Kiev and accompany him to Uman. Being caught would have meant immediate exile to Siberia, but the trip came off, opening a door to Uman for the first time in over thirty years.

The following winter a group of eleven people from the United States traveled to Uman under the leadership of Rabbi Zvi Aryeh Rosenfeld. More trips followed, but owing to the presence of military installations nearby, the Soviets circumscribed the visitors in every conceivable way. You had to travel all the way to Kiev just to apply for the special visa required to visit Uman, and visas were as often as not refused. Even when they were granted, it was forbidden to visit Uman unaccompanied, and certainly not to stay in the town overnight.

Reb Noson once said, "Even if the road to Uman were paved with knives, I would crawl there just so I could be at Rebbe Nachman's grave." For the most devoted Breslovers, visiting Rebbe Nachman's Tzion was the dream of a lifetime. People resorted to all kinds of stratagems to get around the Soviet obstinacy, sometimes putting themselves at considerable risk to travel to Uman even without a visa. One of the main principles of Breslov teaching is that the obstacles to any holy goal are only sent in order to increase one's yearning and determination to achieve it. How many prayers flowed forth in the endeavor to get to Uman! And they were answered. One way or another, there was a steady trickle of visitors to the Tzion. No where was this more evident than in the desire of the Breslover Chassidim to be by the Rebbe for Rosh HaShanah kibutz.

The Kibutz ("gathering")

Every year Rebbe Nachman's followers used to travel to be with him for Rosh HaShanah. Hundreds came for his last Rosh HaShanah in 1810. It was then that he made his strongest statements ever about the importance of coming to him for Rosh HaShanah. "No one should be missing," he said, "Rosh HaShanah is my whole mission" (Tzaddik #403). Eighteen days later Rebbe Nachman passed away - leaving his chassidim to ponder, among other things, why he had spoken so much that year about the importance of coming to him for Rosh HaShanah since he must have known it was going to be his last one in this world.

It was Reb Noson who spelled out what the Rebbe meant. just as his chassidim had come to him for Rosh HaShanah during his lifetime, so they should in the future come to his gravesite. When Reb Noson arranged the first pilgrimage to the Rebbe's Tzion in the winter of 1811, one of his main intentions was to impress this on the other chassidim. But out of the hundreds that had come for the Rebbe's last Rosh HaShanah, only about sixty traveled to Uman the following year. Even so, this was enough to encourage Reb Noson to feel that the Rosh HaShanah gathering could continue, and indeed with each year the numbers grew.

At first the Breslover Chassidim would pray in the local synagogue. Within ten years, however, there were so many visitors that they could not all be accommodated there. Each year somewhere else had to be found to hold the services. Reb Noson used to make the arrangements, and it soon became clear to him that the only practical solution was to build a Breslover shul in Uman. The enormous costs involved made this an awesome undertaking, but by Rosh HaShanah 1829 Reb Noson realized he had no alternative. He feared that if Rosh HaShanah came and he was unable to secure a large enough place, the overcrowding would discourage people from coming, which might put an end to the annual Rosh HaShanah gatherings.

The next few years brought many trials: a succession of bitter winters, several serious epidemics which took a heavy toll on many Breslover families, and an armed conflict between Poland and Russia which made life precarious and travel for fund-raising nearly impossible. Yet despite the difficulties, Reb Noson managed to secure a suitable property, gained planning permission, purchased the necessary timber and other materials, and started building. By the summer of 1834 the Breslov shul - it was known as the "kloyz" was sufficiently advanced that it could be used for the coming Rosh HaShanah. Reb Noson purchased a beautiful Sefer Torah, books and everything else needed in a shul. He was overjoyed...

But the joy was short-lived. With uncanny timing, the forces of hatred against Breslov Chassidus, which had for years been simmering and fermenting more or less underground, finally ruptured into open warfare (For a detailed account of this period, see "Through Fire and Water, Breslov Research Institute 1992"). Antagonism to Rebbe Nachman's teachings had always existed among those who found them too much of an assault on their own complacent attitudes. After the Rebbe's passing, the opposition was directed against the Breslov Chassidim in general, but especially against Reb Noson, who was doing more than anyone to spread the Rebbe's teachings. It was now unleashed with unmitigated fury. What followed was, unfortunately, not one of the finer moments in Jewish history. Reb Noson's opponents denounced him to the Russian authorities as a "false prophet" whose activities were against the interests of the Czar and therefore treasonable. Reb Noson was promptly arrested, exiled to Nemirov, the town of his birth, and placed under house arrest.

A week before Rosh HaShanah 1835, Reb Noson secretly left Nemirov in the middle of the night to go to Uman. His hope was that if he was already there, his opponents might at least leave him in peace for the "Days of Awe." Undeterred, they reported him to the authorities, and the night before Rosh HaShanah, the police arrived with drawn weapons in order to "capture" Reb Noson, who was led through the streets like a common criminal. However, due to the intervention of Uman's leading maskilim, whom the authorities knew and trusted, and with whom Reb Noson had always maintained a relationship, a deal was struck permitting him to remain in Uman for Rosh HaShanah. Later, whenever Reb Noson would recall the suffering he endured to spend that Rosh HaShanah in Uman, he would say that it was more meaningful than any other Rosh HaShanah he had ever experienced. With the steady spread of Rebbe Nachman's teachings, the annual Rosh HaShanah gatherings attracted visitors from further afield. By the early 1900s people were coming from Poland and even from Israel, where the beginnings of a Breslov community were forming. Despite the hardships of pre-modern travel, Uman remained fairly accessible until 1917, when the Russian border was closed. The chassidim in Poland then started holding their own Rosh HaShanah gathering in Lublin, while the Breslovers in Jerusalem established another. In the 1940s Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz, a grandson of Reb Noson who had moved to Israel shortly before the war, started an annual gathering in Meron at the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar.

The violent repression of Jewish religious activity in Russia forced the Rosh HaShanah gatherings in Uman underground. Nevertheless, even after the Second World War, the few remaining Breslover Chassidim in Russia continued holding a secret Rosh HaShanah minyan in Uman despite the risk of imprisonment. However, with the shift of the Breslov movement to Israel and the U.S., the main Rosh HaShanah gatherings were those held in Israel. By the 1970s and 1980s the gatherings held in Meron and Jerusalem were each attracting many thousands, while smaller gatherings were held in New York, and later in Manchester, England.

The gatherings in Meron and Jerusalem were major events, involving a whole organizational infrastructure to arrange accommodation, meals and so on. The two days of intense prayer, communal eating, chassidic study sessions, song and dance created a unique atmosphere that made a deep impression on many who had never been in Uman nor ever dreamed that they would ever go. From time to time during the Rosh HaShanah dancing, a few people would sing the traditional Breslover song, "Uman, Uman, Rosh HaShanah..." But the idea of actually being in Uman for Rosh HaShanah was as laughable as Avraham and Sarah having a baby in their old age.

Yet they did! And so too the Breslovers came back to Uman - in spite of the "Iron Curtain"! The draw of Rebbe Nachman's s hold over the imagination Tzion never lost it of the Breslover Chassidim. By the early 1980s more and more organized groups were traveling to Uman from the U.S., Britain and even Israel. The Russian authorities turned down all requests to arrange a tour to coincide with Rosh HaShanah they still wouldn't even allow visitors to stay in Uman overnight - but the Breslovers kept on asking... and praying...

And in 1988 it happened. After protracted negotiations, the Soviet facade began to crack, and the authorities finally gave permission for two hundred-fifty people to spend Rosh HaShanah in Uman. Even after agreeing, they kept on changing their minds, creating innumerable difficulties along the way. Nevertheless, by a miracle, it came off. Uman's one and only hotel - an old, shabby, dilapidated building more like an army barracks - was inundated with chassidim, who sang, danced and poured out their hearts in prayer, leaving the bemused locals to stare at the strange specter in total wonderment.

The following year, over a thousand people came. A large, empty factory site was rented some ten minutes walk from the gravesite. The production halls were hastily converted into a synagogue, dining hall and dormitories, and food was flown in from Israel. Elderly Jews who had lived their entire lives in Uman began stepping forward out of nowhere to join the festivities. The sight of so many of their emancipated brethren literally dancing in the streets finally convinced them that they could at last drop the paranoid attitudes which had perforce become second nature during the long years of Stalinist, Nazi and post-Stalinist persecution. By Rosh HaShanah 1990, the number of visitors had doubled to two thousand, and an even larger factory site was acquired two minutes from the gravesite. As Rebbe Nachman once said: "Every year people say that previous years were better and times are not as good as they were before. But the opposite is true. G-d now directs the world better than ever" (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #307).

Praying at Rebbe Nachman's gravesite - 1991

5. The Rebbe's Rosh HaShanah Today

Rebbe Nachman's Rosh HaShanah starts long before the first of Tishri. The Rebbe himself said that as soon as one Rosh HaShanah is over, he already started waiting for next year's (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #215). But for most people today, serious practical preparations start in the early summer. The first thing almost everyone has to confront is obstacles of one kind or another, whether from within themselves or the world outside. This has been true from Rebbe Nachman's time until today. Reb Noson wrote: "We learned how determined we have to be to break the obstacles that stand in the way of any holy action, especially the barriers against being with the Rebbe for Rosh HaShanah" (Tzaddik #406). it seems that the only way to receive the unique spiritual uplift that comes from being in Uman for Rosh HaShanah is through first having had to fight for it a bit.

This applies even to those who have already had a taste of an Uman Rosh HaShanah and who normally find it hard to imagine ever going anywhere else - how much more does it apply to those who are contemplating going for the first time. Today the trip to Uman ought to be almost as easy as booking your tickets and packing a suitcase. But while the collapse of the Soviet Union has eliminated many of the obstacles that used to exist, others still have a way of coming up.

Few people are in the happy position of not having to wonder how to finance such a trip. One of the first things to do is to pray for the necessary funds... and then start saving! The Breslover Chassidim of old used to put aside a special savings box at the beginning of the year and add at least a few coins every so often. For those whose yearning to go is very strong, the necessary funds often have a way of appearing at the very moment when things seem most hopeless. Rebbe Nachman explicitly stated: "I have already made it my business to take care of the expenses of those who come to me for Rosh HaShanah" (Siach Sarfei Kodesh 1-27. Many today can testify to this as an actuality!

Another obstacle most people come up against is their sense of responsibility to their families, their home community and the like. Understandably, wives have always had great difficulties with the idea of being left at home with the children on this holiday. Yet it is important to point out that the husband, as in many other realms of Jewish life, is considered the family's representative - in the long term, the benefits from the trip to Uman are enjoyed by the rest of the family as well. As for the short term, Reb Noson once remarked: "It is one of G-d's miracles that Yom Kippur comes right after Rosh HaShanah. This way, the members of the family have to for-give each other!" (Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Rosen; Siach Sarfei Kodesh 1-665). Some people feel tom about the idea of leaving Israel in order to travel to the Ukraine for Rosh HaShanah. From America, England, France or any of the other places in the Diaspora where there are Breslover Chassidim, this might seem logical enough. But to leave the Holy Land? Yet Rebbe Nachman taught that the holiness of the graves of the Tzaddikim is in the same category as the holiness of the Land of Israel (Likutey Moharan II, 109). Thus, "those who travel (from Israel) to the graves of Tzaddikim are actually traveling from the Holy Land... to the Holy Land!" (Rabbi Shmuel Shapiro).

Even after dealing with all the other issues, there may well still be a nagging voice inside that keeps saying, "I can only get a good night's sleep in my own bed... I won't be able to eat the kind of food I'm used to... the davening will be so crowded... wouldn't it be just as good to stay at home? Surely my kavanah in davening will be much better - I won't have the distractions of an unfamiliar place!" These were exactly the points one of his followers put to Rebbe Nachman, saying he much preferred being with him when things were quieter. The Rebbe responded: "Whether you eat or don't eat; whether you sleep or don't sleep; whether you concentrate on your prayers or you don't concentrate properly.. just make sure you are with me for Rosh HaShanah." Reb Noson adds: "All the distractions the man mentioned were purely imaginary. They were the promptings of the evil inclination - because thank G-d it was perfectly evident that in the main people prayed with deeper concentration among the assembled chassidim on Rosh HaShanah than they would have done if they had prayed in their own home towns" (Tzaddik 404).

Every effort and sacrifice, large or small, that we make in our journey to the Tzaddik is precious. Two of Rebbe Nachman's closest followers Reb Yudel and Reb Shmuel Isaac, used to travel long distances to get from their homes to the Rebbe. Atone point they wanted to move to the same region so as to be close to him all the time, and so they did. The Rebbe then told them he greatly missed their journeys to him. With every single step they would take on their way an angel was created. They said, "But what about all our efforts and running before we finally hired the coach to bring us?" "They are also included," replied the Rebbe. "Every one of those steps also creates an angel." Just before his last Rosh HaShanah in Uman, the Rebbe spoke about this again and said: "Oh to have the merit to see the clear, radiant light of the roads you travel to be with me" (Tzaddik #291).

Waking up

Practically everybody traveling to Uman for Rosh HaShanah today, especially from Europe, the U.S. and further afield, faces a lengthy journey by night and day. If there is anything positive to be said about the disorientation this causes, it could be that it helps prepare one for the intensity of the Uman experience, which is very much about waking up, quite literally as well as in the spiritual sense. After the various delays that can crop up on the way, many finally get into Uman in the wee hours of the night, only to find the area near the Rebbe's Tzion surprisingly alive with a bustle of activity (the hours after midnight are a favored time for Breslovers to pray and meditate.) It is an interesting fact that many people who at home find themselves unable to manage without their seven to eight hours of sleep each night discover that they can do very well with much less while in Uman.

Representatives of the Vaad (organizing committee) are available day and night to direct people to their accommodations. Normally the first thing most people want to do after depositing their bags is to go to the Rebbe's Tzion to pray, a deeply moving experience both for those coming for the first time and for those returning. With more and more people arriving by the hour, the excitement and awesomeness of Rosh HaShanah can be felt ever more strongly. In the present economic crisis in the Ukraine there is practically nothing to buy in Uman, and all the sights worth seeing in the town can be "done" more than adequately in the space of less than half an hour. The only place really worth visiting is the elegant Sofiefka park, of which Rebbe Nachman himself said, "To be in Uman and not go there?" The absence of distractions is probably just as well, since it leaves one free to rest, and then take advantage of every available moment before Rosh HaShanah to be at the Tzion to pray, study, meditate and contemplate. (Those with a spare day or two before or after the festival may wish to go to visit the graves of the Baal Shem Tov in Medzeboz, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok in Berdichev, Reb Noson in Breslov, etc.)

Grave of the Baal Shem Tov

Reb Noson's grave in Breslov

On Rosh HaShanah eve the Selichos start quite early. The shul is packed, the atmosphere electric, the davening full of fervor. As Rebbe Nachman said: "Other Tzaddikim wish themselves a Rosh HaShanah as good as our Erev Rosh HaShanah" (Imros Tehoros). At last Rosh HaShanah itself arrives. The Breslov davening is slow, which is fine for those who are accustomed to it. As for those who are not, there is nothing to prevent them taking a break whenever necessary in order to take some air, relax, offer their own private prayers, etc. (Sefardim, please note: for those who feel out of place in the main minyan, some of the Sefardim who come to Uman have chosen to pray in their own minyan following their own customs.) In any case, the traditional Breslover nusach is never tedious. At those moments of great solemnity, when the words of the machzor confront us with the ultimate facts of our mortal existence, the melodies are hauntingly moving, followed by a rapturous burst of the most infectiously lebedik singing that forces you to clap your hands with everybody else and literally jump for joy.


"Eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and send portions to those who are without, for the day is holy to our Lord; and do not be somber, for the joy of HaShem is your strength" (Nechemiah 8:10). The Vaad has put special care into catering the festive Yom Tov meals, making sure to provide ample food for all. Sitting and enjoying together with everyone else gives one a chance to appreciate the amazing variety of Rebbe Nachman's followers and the wonder of the Godly unity that has been made out of such diversity. Perhaps this is one of the things Rebbe Nachman meant when he compared the Tzaddik to the Even Shesiyah, the "Foundation Stone" in the Holy Temple, which was one single stone formed out of the twelve separate stones Jacob took to lay his head upon (Genesis 28:11). The true Tzaddik has the power to reconcile opposites and make peace. One of the high points of Rosh HaShanah in Uman is Tashlikh, on the afternoon of the first day. This is held at what is now a reservoir a few minutes away from the Tzion. The sight of over two thousand chassidim clad in white advancing through the streets of Uman and gathering at the water's edge is impressive enough. It is even more moving to those who are aware that this was one of the spots where in 1941 the Nazis rounded up hundreds of Jews and then started pushing them into the water - with plenty of local collaborators looking on to make sure that no one escaped being drowned. "Those who sow in tears will reap in joyous song..." (Psalms 126:5). The return from Tashlikh is a triumphant dance through the streets: "And you shall draw water with joy from the springs of salvation" (Isaiah 12,3). Just try to picture the scene - where the Nazis once slaughtered Jews with the local collaborators looking on, the police now Stop the traffic to allow over two thousand chassidim to dance joyously in the streets!

After Tashlikh was when Rebbe Nachman would give his Rosh HaShanah lesson. Today this is the time for study sessions with leading scholars of the Breslov movement, with a wide variety of shiurim at all levels, in Yiddish, Hebrew, English, French, Russian... The various Rosh HaShanah teachings in the writings of Rebbe Nachman and Reb Noson are not only a commentary on and explanation of today's Rosh HaShanah. The manifold facets of Rosh HaShanah as it actually is in Uman today are themselves a teaching - a vivid, living commentary on the practical meaning of Rebbe Nachman's teachings - on the vital importance of putting all our strength into prayer and joyous service of G-d... on being prepared to confront ourselves and ask ourselves the deepest questions about the purpose of our lives and how we are measuring up in fulfilling our potential... on valuing the spiritual over and above the material... on loving and appreciating our fellow Jews when they can be so exasperatingly different from ourselves....

People who have never been in Uman for Rosh HaShanah may wonder what it means to go to the Tzaddik if he isn't actually there in the flesh. But for those who have had the experience, the Rebbe's spirit can be felt at every turn: at the Tzion, where somehow one finds oneself expressing one's deepest personal needs and issues so naturally; in the shul, where "intensity" is too tame a word to describe the rapturous joy and profound awe that inspire the entire gathering; in the singing and dancing accompanying the Yom Tov meals; at Tashlikh; and in the words of Torah that flow forth, whether at the organized shiurim or in informal study sessions and conversations with old friends and new.. Each person comes away with a wealth of new insights and chizuk - encouragement, to start the new year off on the right footing.

6. Getting Ready

The practical business of getting to Uman can involve a great deal of thought and preparation, yet this should not allow us to neglect the spiritual preparations necessary for the Day of Judgment. Elul, the last month of the Jewish year, has an intrinsic quality that makes it particularly conducive to repentance, and the spiritual advances we make in this period prepare us beautifully for the Day of Judgment.


Getting ready for Rosh HaShanah is much like preparing to meet the "King." Few of us today have had any exposure to true royalty, nor have we grown up with that sense of respect and reverence for kings and powerful rulers that previous generations had. Today our impressions of those who rule are all too often colored by the widespread scandals surrounding so many leading figures and our awareness of their true nature. This may make it difficult for us to imagine the awe evoked in a person who comes before a king. Yet we a re not, of course, even talking about being brought before an earthly ruler. On Rosh HaShanah, we are brought before the King of the Universe, who will scrutinize us in profound and uncomfortable detail. We have to be ready!

One goes before a king dressed appropriately. The clothes a person wears and the way he wears them are among the greatest indicators of his personality and what he has made of himself. just as we have physical clothes, so too we have spiritual "clothes." These are made up of our thoughts, words and actions, which literally envelop our soul, giving exact expression to who and what we really are. Coming before the Almighty, our spiritual "garments" must be scrubbed as clean as they can be. The month of Elul is specifically the time when we concentrate our energies on cleansing our spiritual selves.

There is no more effective way to cleanse ourselves than through taking care about the way we speak. What we say, and the way we say it, accurately reflects our inner essence, because it is speech that expresses our daat our mind and inner consciousness. Speech is the mother of action, since the way we articulate our inner thoughts and desires has a decisive influence over the things we do. Speech is the intermediary between thought and action. Thus the way we speak is an indication of the degree to which our lives are devoted to the holy. There are people who have made themselves a world where not a word they say concerns G-d. Their mouths are full of criticism, ridicule, cynicism and sarcasm, and they only have ears for similar talk from others. The exquisite Godliness which exists in all things remains hidden and unrevealed.

The one truth is the existence of G-d. If we can stick to the truth, and use our language to assert and reveal His presence, we thereby have an awesome power to channel Godliness directly into the mundane world we live in. Godliness can then "dwell" in the world. As a start, this can be as simple as making it a point, when something good happens to you, to acknowledge where it came from!


Thanking G-d for the good in our lives is one of the best ways to start a session of Hisbodedus - the private prayer and meditation in one's native tongue, that Rebbe Nachman advocated as the highest level of devotion. It is particularly important to set aside time for this practice during Elul. It can be a very rewarding experience to make a detailed list of all the things we have to be grateful for, from our health, strength, faculties, family, home, livelihood... to the mitzvos we have the privilege of performing every day.. and the very fact that we are Jews, with a holy soul that will endure for ever. By focusing on the good and developing a positive outlook we put ourselves in a far stronger position to grapple with the evil within us.

Hisbodedus is the time to take a calm, honest look at ourselves to see where we need to improve. Changing entrenched habits can be difficult. The first step is to ask G-d to help. The essence of hisbodedus is simplicity - to express ourselves to G-d in simple, straightforward language the way we would talk to an intimate friend. Shortly before Rebbe Nachman passed away, when he was seriously ill, his grandson, Yisroel, came into him. The Rebbe said: "Pray to G-d that I should become well again." The little boy went aside and said: "G-d! G-d! Let my zeida be well!" The adults in the room started smiling, but Rebbe Nachman said: "This is how we have to ask things of G-d. What other way is there to pray?" (Tzaddik #439). Hisbodedus is the key to repentance: each session is a practical workshop in self-cleansing.


Rebbe Nachman suggested to some of his followers to read through the entire TaNaKh (Bible) during the period from the beginning of Elul up till the end of Sukkos (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #251). The study of the Zohar and Tikkuney Zohar is also extremely beneficial during this period: the very language used in these works is so holy that it has the power to motivate us to serve G-d. The same holds true of the teachings of Rebbe Nachman in his Likutey Moharan, The Aleph-Bet Book, Rabbi Nachman's Stories and Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom (see Kokhavey Or, p. 77f #26,27). Some Breslover Chassidim try to go through all of these works during this period. Another important aid to repentance is reciting Psalms (Likutey Moharan II, 73).

Pidyon Nefesh - Redemption.

The day before Rosh HaShanah is a very good time for presenting a pidyon - charity money given to the Tzaddik in order to redeem oneself in the eyes of Heaven and cleanse one's Soul (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #214). Nowadays, Breslover Chassidim give this redemption money to an elder of the community.

* * *

Our sages teach: On Rosh HaShanah, three books are opened; one for Tzaddikim, one for the completely wicked, and one for those in between. Tzaddikim are inscribed immediately for a good life, and the completely wicked for a bad life, while those in between are given time to repent until Yom Kippur (Rosh HaShanah 16b). Reb Noson writes: "Those who are attached to the Tzaddikim are inscribed together with the Tzaddikim" (Likutey Halakhot, Nezikin 5:17). May we all be granted this year - and every year - to be inscribed and sealed in the Book of the Righteous, Amen.

7. Why Me?

How can we characterize the average per son who is drawn to Uman for Rosh HaShanah? An impossible task - not one is typical. What follows is a small sampling of personal experiences from a few who were in Uman for Rosh HaShanah 1991. We point out that three of the four people interviewed were never in Uman before Rosh HaShanah, 5752 (1991).

How did you come to the decision to go to Uman for Rosh HaShanah?

M. C, Kollel student:

My decision to travel to Uman was as difficult as my decision to become a Breslover Chassid. I attended, and was successful in, the finest Lithuanian style Yeshivos, where chassidus was labeled an "off-shoot" of "authentic" Judaism. The Baal Shem Tov and all of the other Chassidic Masters were never mentioned and none of their works studied. Despite my continual progress in learning, I felt an emptiness - something was always missing. I felt a bit like the son in Rabbi Nachman's Story "The Rabbi's Son" - externally "having it all," but aching inside. A baal teshuvah persuaded me to attend a lecture in Rebbe Nachman's teachings and it far eclipsed anything I had ever heard or learned in all my years in Yeshivot. A "seed" took root and I began studying Rebbe Nachman's works despite the opposition I faced. I had to make a large scale intellectual "overhaul" to integrate the Rebbe's ideas and change my mindset. But to take the Rebbe into my heart, to make the pact and go to Uman, I had to over-come a different set of obstacles, including the fact that I felt that Breslover Chassidim "weren't my type." It ultimately became a matter of "surrendering" to the Rebbe's suggestions. When I finally "surrendered," it was a most awesome feeling. Now, having found Rebbe Nachman, going to Uman for Rosh HaShanah is an integral part of me.

S. S., executive with Warner Brothers, USA:

Since my childhood in Brooklyn, I knew of the benefits to be derived from visiting the grave of Rabbi Nachman in Uman and had always wanted to make the trip. I learned of the annual Rosh HaShanah pilgrimage from a friend and given the relaxation of tensions in Russia, I decided to go.

T.L.B., attorney, England:

The Rebbe says in Tzaddik that there is nothing greater than being with him for Rosh HaShanah and that he is able to help us then in a way which is not possible during the rest of the year.

J.L., LAN systems engineer, Israel:

The decision to go to Uman was a very difficult My wife wanted me to go very much, but one we recently moved to Israel from Minnesota and I wanted to postpone it for a year or even two. I saw merit in going for the sake of my personal "tikkun," but I had my rationalization why postponing the trip would be better. I went this year partly for "shalom bayit" peace at home - but mainly I had an account to settle. As with all Baal Teshuvas, I had to correct a few past "wrongs" which were in need of major repair - you know, the type of repair you need a specialist for. I would not go to a small-town plumber to replace all the plumbing in the Empire State Building. Also, the opportunity to see the area where my grandfather and his family lived played a part in my decision.

What were your expectations upon arriving in Uman? How did your expectations compare to your actual experience?


I grouped them into two divisions. One was the material, the conditions of the city of Uman, which I imagined as an early 20th century or even late 19th century city. I wasn't "disappointed." Regarding the spiritual, I learned that, one cannot expect to become inspired when "looking over one's own shoulder." l again " surrendered" myself to just traveling there, hoping that the moment of inspiration would come. And it did!


My only fear was not being accepted by the chassidic Jews of Breslov and other sects who make up the overwhelming majority of attendees -since I am not a practicing Jew. But to the contrary, not only were my fears not realized, but I was warmly accepted by everyone. Perhaps because of my background, I was treated as a special guest whose journey to Uman was a real sacrifice, and everything was done to make me feel comfortable and at home.


The first time I went for Rosh HaShanah was in 1989 (I have since been in 1990 and 1991). 1 was apprehensive as to what I might find. But in fact, it was a homecoming. The first night of Rosh HaShanah tears poured down my face at the joy of being with the Rebbe for Rosh HaShanah. One could sense his presence amongst his chassidim - many of whom had experienced many problems and difficulties in getting to Uman.


I somehow managed to keep my expectations rather small. I just wanted to get there and back in one piece (the "Gorbachev coup" had occurred only weeks before). But if the Rebbe could help correct my "account", it would be well worth the trip. The experience at Rebbe Nachman's Tzion, as well as at Reb Noson's and the Berdichover's, was more than I expected. The old mikvah in the Kiev synagogue was also very uplifting. I did not expect to daven at all those different places. Afterwards, I even felt bad that I didn't have the strength to go to the kever of the Baal Shem Tov. I definitely plan on going back, though next time with a little more insight, a little more kavanah (intention) and a lot less weighing me down.

What was the most inspiring - and the most difficult - aspect of your experience?


The Friday evening davening, after Lekho Dodi. The entire congregation - over 2,000 people - continued singing a most gripping melody. The congregation then broke out in an incredibly inspiring dance - an awesome sight. To me it meant, "G-d! You have raised me out of the dirt, poor and wretched soul that I am. You have brought me here to be with princes - the princes of Your people." I stood entranced, helpless, unable to move, tears rolling down my cheeks. I wouldn't trade those moments for anything. Surprisingly, my most difficult moment was actually at Rebbe Nachman's gravesite. It was very crowded. And though I saw many people very deeply involved in their thoughts and prayers, I felt too self-conscious to have hisbodedus. In short, I felt numbed by all that was happening around me.


Hearing the passionate davening of the Breslovers is something I had never experienced. It was an overwhelming and uplifting feeling. Of course I could not keep up with the group, but I still felt there was a place for me there and that I was a part of the prayers.


Last year our baggage was lost by the airline. But I found that I didn't need it. Even without a change of clothes, it was enough just being there (and we got our baggage back after the trip!).


Being sick with a high fever was by far the most difficult part of the trip for me. I really missed out on the Rosh HaShanah davening. But the most inspiring aspect of the trip, even while lying there with fever, was knowing that some major adjustments were being made on High in my favor! I was finally able to do something that had a major positive impact in my life, and possibly even for my family - both in this world and in the next. Usually, I feel like all my efforts are barely enough, if even that. But there in Uman I felt as though mountains were moved on my behalf.

What changes in your personal life did you notice when you returned from Uman (davening, belief, spiritual, physical)?


The differences were not very dramatic, but one thing is for sure: I can now see the issues that I struggle with in a much clearer light. And when the struggles seem a bit too unbearable and I feel I'm about to break, I hang onto having been in Uman for Rosh HaShanah with the Rebbe.


I am certainly a better person for the experience and I plan to return to Uman next year. I wish I could say it had changed me more, but this just would not be true. Three days, no matter how potent, cannot overturn 49 years.


Changes take place slowly and experiences are assimilated slowly. My trips to Uman have had a cumulative effect and have helped me understand what the Rebbe wanted from us. J.L.: After coming back, my davening was radically different in the sense that there is now a connection that wasn't there before, and life in general does not feel as weighed down. Also, the relationship with my wife vastly improved.

* * *

So there's a lot each one of us can get out of Rosh HaShanah. "Nu, if I can't get there this year, I'll go next year. My presence or absence won't make much of a difference to anybody else." Or will it? The fact is, it is not only what we can gain from Rosh HaShanah that counts, but what we can contribute by our presence. In fact, it might count even more. To paraphrase: "Ask not what Rosh HaShanah can do for me, but what I can do for Rosh HaShanah!" Thus in his last ever lesson, on Rosh HaShanah of 1810, Rebbe Nachman taught:

The Sefer Yetzira tells us that two stones build two houses, three stones build six houses and four stones build twenty-four houses... That is, with two stones, A and B, one can make two combinations (AB and BA), with three stones, A, B and C, one can make six combinations; with four stones, A, B, C and D, one can make twenty-four combinations, and so on. Each additional stone increases the product factorially.

The "stones" are the Souls (Lamentations 4:1). Thus a simple quorum of 10 people yields a product of 3,628,800 combinations! Imagine the increase in the number of combinations with every single "stone" every soul - added to the minyan. Imagine the number of combinations produced by 100 people... or by 1,000... or by 2,500 people... and more! The permutations are staggering!

Rebbe Nachman continued:

Every one of these "stones" - these Jewish souls - is a part of the "building of holiness. Each and every Jew, by joining in this "building," increases the "community" of holiness around the world (Likutey Moharan 11, 8:6; see also Tzaddik #169).

So, "Why me?" Because the benefits I gain by joining this "community," together with the benefits countless others gain because of my presence, are the best start to "building" the New Year.

8. A Prayer

Excerpts from a Prayer to come to Rebbe Nachman's gravesite by R. Yitzchak Breiter (1886-1943), a leader of the Breslov Chassidim in pre-war Poland.

Master of all the worlds and all the souls: help us fulfill all the teachings of the true Tzaddikim and carry out everything they have taught us so that we can make amends for all our sins and return to You wholeheartedly.

As we stand on the threshold of Mashiach, You have lovingly sent us a true leader of the Jewish People - the "flowing stream, the source of wisdom," Rebbe Nachman, son of Feiga, may his merit protect us. He has taught us the path to follow so as not to lose all our precious days and years in sleep. His teachings have the power to arouse us from our sleep, release us from the insensitivity of our hearts, and strengthen and encourage us.

Master of the world, loving G-d: You know the innermost secrets of all hearts. You know all the obstacles and barriers we face and the trials we go through. Visiting the holy grave of Rebbe Nachman has the power to elevate and restore everything to You.

Grant that all of us should have the privilege of coming there joyfully and praying at his grave. Help us wake up quickly from our spiritual sleep and rise from the places we have fallen to. Bring us back to You with all our hearts, and from now on let us always live in accordance with Your will. Let the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts find favor before You, HaShem our Rock and Redeemer. Amen.

9. To the Point

The city of Uman today might aptly be compared with a city in medieval Europe. There are no convention halls or modem hotels with the conveniences known to those in the West. This has necessitated many improvisations in order to cater to the visiting chassidim during the week of Rosh HaShanah. It is a bit like having to prepare for an army battalion out in the field for a week of maneuvers. Special arrangements are necessary to provide food, accommodation and synagogue facilities for the thousands who descend upon Uman. (Though many women travel to Uman during the year, the logistics are such that it would be impossible to cater to both men and women for Rosh HaShanah.)

To make the Rosh HaShanah in Uman as successful as possible and to enable participants to spend their time usefully and profitably in Torah and prayer, the Breslov community has set up an international Vaad (committee) to help coordinate the arrangements. Fish, chicken and meat are prepared, cooked and vacuum packed in Jerusalem under strictest hygienic guidelines. An advance team of dedicated workers travels to Uman weeks before Rosh HaShanah to prepare the accommodations and to see that the synagogue facilities-benches, chairs, Ark etc. are being readied. They also oversee the preparation of the mikvah and make the necessary arrangements with city officials to reserve the vanya (public bathhouse) for the exclusive use of the chassidim on Erev Shabbos and Erev Yom Tov. They also prepare the "field kitchen," purchase vegetables (e.g. potatoes, beets), Pepsi Cola and anything else that might available in the Ukraine at that time.

Even so, it is not possible to cater for everyone's private needs, so we have prepared a suggested list of items you may wish to bring for your own use, some of them necessary, others optional. Bring enough to make your stay comfortable but not too much to make traveling unbearable. As yet the Ukrainian economy is not geared for the capitalist market. This means that there are very few stores, and those that do exist have very few items. In other words, bring what you need do not expect to buy it there. Although it will make things much easier to travel as light as possible, it should be remembered that items Westerners take for granted are considered luxuries in the Ukraine.


Since your tickets, room and board will have been pre-paid, do not bring too much extra cash. There are many locals who would be happy to "lighten your load," so please be careful. In Uman itself the only times you are likely to need local currency is at a store or to pay the entrance fee to the Sofiefka Park or the municipal bathhouse. In other words, you may only need a few coins - do not convert large amounts. There is also ample opportunity to bargain and barter. For this purpose, small bills, such as single dollar bills, can come in handy, and as a supplement, cigarettes and chewing gum are also a valuable bargaining commodity. If you do want to purchase something, it would be wise to find out what others have paid before you approach a "vendor." Do not be afraid to bargain. On Rosh HaShanah 1991, the average Ukrainian's monthly salary was about 500 rubles, which is roughly equivalent to $15-20.

"... enough to make your stay comfortable..."
"... not too much to make it unbearable"


At least five languages are common currency at the Rosh HaShanah gathering in Uman: Hebrew, English, Yiddish, French and Russian. Fluency in any one is sufficient to get you through, though you might want to brush up on a few phrases in one or more of the others - who knows, you might find yourself sitting next to someone extraordinary! People from many different backgrounds come to the Rebbe's Tzion for Rosh HaShanah, so the variety of different minhagim (customs) is tremendous. Don't be afraid to ask people why they are doing what they are doing. Most will be happy to explain both the simple and esoteric reasons.


As on any foreign trip, it is best to avoid drinking tap water. Bottled drinks or boiled water are preferable. The meals provided by the Vaad are quite plentiful and wholesome. However they are provided only upon arrival in Uman, so bring enough food for 2-3 meals/snacks per day prior to your arrival in Uman as well as sufficient food for your return trip. Any tasty morsel that might increase your Yom Tov and Shabbos enjoyment should also be brought. Bring a little extra to share with your friends as they will undoubtedly do the same. Please realize that to seat and serve some 2,500 people at one time is not very easy! The "kitchen staff" and "waiters" are very dedicated - but only human - even if they are chassidim. Therefore, you might want to bring your own food and eat in your lodgings.

What should I bring?

The following are a few suggestions of what to bring:

a few canned items (tuna, sardines, canned fruit,, etc. ... don't forget the can opener)

matzah and/or crackers

small plastic jar of peanut butter and/or jelly

any kind of dried fruits and snacks

hard salami

fruits that will not spoil in transit, such as apples and oranges

cookies, brownies

chewing gum and other sweets

plastic cutlery, cups and plates

The Vaad always has hot water in the kitchen area for tea and coffee but you might wish to make your own where you sleep. So you might add a small water cooker, hot cups, tea, coffee and sugar (or substitute). (Make sure electrical appliances are adapted for 220v.)


The Ukraine is a northern country and the weather in Uman during September can be cold and wet. You'll be thankful you brought rain and winter gear. Don't expect central heating - you can always take layers off.

This is a general list of clothing that should be included in your packing:

ShabbosNom Tov clothes

Kitel (if it's your custom)

regular weekday clothes

rubbers or boots

a warm sweater


heavyweight sleeping clothes (consider a heavy sweat suit)

winter raincoat (can be used as extra cover at night)

one pair good walking shoes


needle and thread for emergency repairs

In addition, the following items should not be forgotten:


Daily and Shabbos siddur

Yom Tov Machzor


travel size books for study (codes, gemara, Chumash...)

Tikkun HaKlali and other prayers that can be recited at different gravesites (many Tzaddikim are buried in the area - don't pass them by!)

enough Shabbos/Yom Tov candies

3-4 24 hour candles (for Shabbos and Yom Tov) yarmulke/kippa


an additional book or two for bus and plane trips

It's a good idea to make your own detailed list, so you can check off each item as you pack. Some miscellaneous items also helpful are:

a pocket knife with can opener and other assorted tools

tissues/toilet paper!

toiletries (toothbrush and paste, soap, shampoo, etc.)

towel and wash cloth (there is rarely hot water)

small first aid kit - bandaids, aspirin, etc.

small inexpensive instamatic camera with film

matches and/or lighter

Shabbos belt for keys (many places may not be covered by the Vaad's eruv.)

Whatever you do, don't forget your passport, visa and ticket!

Don't hesitate to bring any other items that will add to your comfort on the trip - just remember to keep it light. Stay focused on the purpose of your trip and you will be able to get the very most out of it!

10. How to Register

Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the Vaad has been to keep costs to an absolute minimum. Realizing the financial stresses on almost everyone's pockets, the Vaad has for the past few years made arrangements with travel agents for unbelievably low prices. For example, for Rosh HaShanah 1991, the round trip to Uman from Israel - including air-fare, visas, transfer to and from Kiev airport, accommodation and board for the week - was only $600! From New York, the price was $1,100. For those who wished to travel via Medzeboz (gravesite of the Baal Shem Tov) and other cities, there was no extra charge.

The Ukraine declared independence in January, 1992, and have announced their plans to introduce their own currency by April of 1992. Many changes are rapidly occurring and one who wishes to register for Rosh HaShanah should inquire in the early summer, preferably 2-3 months before Rosh HaShanah. The Vaad will then be in a position to give you up-to-date information.

In addition, the Vaad is hoping to introduce many improvements and is seeking to lower prices by Rosh HaShanah 1992. In 1991, those coming from North America were able to fly direct from Moscow to the Uman military airfield, bypassing Kiev and eliminating a four-hour bus ride. This year rights to fly direct to Uman are being sought for all arrivals, but arrangements have yet to be finalized. At the time of writing, the Vaad is engaged in negotiations with the Ukrainian state and Uman city authorities to obtain permission to build a complex near the Tzion to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers of visitors to Uman.


For those wishing to travel to Uman for Rosh HaShanah, registering with the Vaad is highly recommended as they will take care of all necessary arrangements - from travel arrangements and visas to accommodation and board - for the lowest possible cost. For those whose trips necessitate individual arrangements, it is still possible to register with the Vaad for accommodation so as to be assured of a place on arrival (though accommodation is always available even at the last minute.)

As of this time, both Russia and the Ukraine require entry visas. Because of their shift to capitalism, applying for visas is not the lengthy ordeal it once was. Any travel agent can generally secure the necessary visa within a few days, and it is recommended that you obtain your visa prior to travel in order to speed up your entry. You need to fill in a form, or the agent will do it for you. Three passport photos are required. Nevertheless it is no problem to get a visa even at the last minute: it is possible to apply for a visa on arrival at Kiev or moscow airport. Entering through Moscow, however, necessitates an additional visa (time and money). Therefore, it is advisable for those who can to fly directly to Kiev. But be prepared for a slow moving line - it can take an hour or more for the authorities to complete all the formalities (in triplicate, by hand! How else?!).

Please note: Those planning to enter the Ukraine on Erev Shabbos or Erev Yom Tov should make certain to obtain their visa in advance. Between airport formalities and travel time to Uman, there is no time to waste. Obviously, one's flight arrival time must be carefully checked before setting out on one's journey, and allowance should be made for unforeseen delays en route. The fact that one is traveling to Uman is no justification for desecrating Shabbos. One possibility would be to plan to arrive in Kiev on Erev Shabbos, stay in Kiev for Shabbos and then proceed to Uman after Shabbos.

Air arrangements

Those from the diaspora who wish to combine their trip to Uman with a visit to Israel either before or after Rosh HaShanah should be aware that all Vaad flights from Israel to the Ukraine and back are chartered, and there is no guarantee that space will be available for those flying only one way. Prices and available space on flights should be verified before making travel arrangements. Those wishing to include Israel in their trip would be advised to consider booking regular flights. Check with your Vaad representative.

Transport to Uman from Kiev

Those arriving in Kiev on their own can take a taxi directly from the airport to Uman (about three hours by cab). Ukrainian taxis seat four only and their baggage compartments are small, so be forewarned about the difficulties involved in transporting large suitcases. Although in 1991 the price for the trip from Kiev to Uman was $30 (!) fluctuations in the value of the ruble have brought increases in prices, and one might even be charged as much as $100 for the trip (though this is still inexpensive for a 150 mile journey). Things could easily have changed again by Rosh HaShanah time. Be wary of the "socialist-turned-capitalist" taxi drivers who know of our desire to get to Uman and wish to capitalize on it. Do not be afraid to bargain and please do not simply accept their stated price as they will then overcharge everyone else who follows. It sometimes pays to travel from the airport into Kiev, where one can pick up a taxi for less.

Arrival at Kiev International Airport

On arrival in Uman one should ask for either: 1) Ulitza Belinskogo (Belinskogo street); 2) Ulitza Pushkina; 3) Rebbe Nachman, or 4) chassidim. By Rosh HaShanah time, the residents of Uman will be fully aware of the presence of the Breslover Chassidim and will direct the driver accordingly. A small street map of some major streets in Uman is provided for your convenience, to help you orient yourself. Remember that the local alphabet is Cyrillic and most Ukrainians do not understand English. Be prepared for blank stares.

General information

Registration form:

In the next section we have provided a registration form to enable the Vaad to apply for your visa, make flight reservations and arrange the necessary accommodations. Please be sure to copy your family name, passport number and all the necessary information directly from your passport, so that all the information is accurate. This will help in expediting your application. Also, please ascertain when the flights are scheduled to leave and return, so you can make your preference known when registering.


The deposit requested in 1991 was $100.00 and is most likely to remain the same. Prices will be kept to an absolute minimum but the final price will not be known until midsummer. Please check with the person you register for up-to-date information.

Late registration:

We point out that a cut-off date is necessary to enable the Vaad to finalize the prices for the charter flights. Those registering after that date might find themselves with extra expenses for regularly scheduled flights and/or other charges (e.g. rush visas, etc.). So for your own benefit, try to register early. Even so, last minute arrangements can often be made.


Many people bring their young sons to Uman because of Rebbe Nachman's promise that any boy coming to him before the age of seven would be protected from impurity. The Vaad makes arrangements for children to be accommodated with their fathers. Parents should make sure to bring suitable clothing, snacks and some toys etc. Be advised that in some countries (e.g. Israel, England) you can register your children on your passport, thereby saving additional visa fees. Include any children traveling with you in your registration form. Other countries (e.g. USA) require a separate passport for each child, necessitating separate applications, registration and visas. Important reminder. If you are bringing children, be sure your reservations are all for the same flight. at just wouldn't do to return home without the children, no matter how tempting!)

Where to register

The following are either representatives of the Vaad or will be able to assist you in contacting the Vaad and in other ways.


Vaad Breslov for Rosh HaShanah
POB 35167
Tel: (02) 281-901
Fax: (02) 512-913

Vaad c/o Yeshivah Breslov:
POB 5023, Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 273-067

The Vaad also has offices in Bnei Brak, Emanuel and Safed. Call for information.

United States:

Dave Fried
Nesia Travel
4602 New Utrecht Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11219
Tel: 718-633-3800
Fax: 718-972-0595

Rabbi Laibel Berger
1946 50th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11204
Tel: 718-338-2434


Rabbi Shaya Lichter
26 Dell Park Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M6B 2T4
Tel: 416-782-4872


Trevor Bell
Breslov Charitable Foundation
33, Waterpark Road
Salford, M7 OFT
Tel: 061-795-1251


Institut Breslev
63 Bd. Rochechouart
75009 Paris
Tel: 45-26-93-97

75 Av. de la Liberte
73100 Aix-Les Bains
Tel: 79-35-50-88

The Breslov Research Institute is truly honored to have Presented the what and whys of Rosh HaShanah in Uman, hoping that this short yet large- booklet will encourage many others to join us. Though we are not the Vaad, we are prepared - and pleased - to act as an information center for those who have any questions. For those who seek updated information, we suggest you make your inquiries about ten weeks before Rosh HaShanah (during July and August). Our addresses and telephones are:


Breslov Research Institute
POB 5370, Jerusalem
Tel: 824-641
Fax: 825-542

North America.

Breslov Research Institute
POB 587
Monsey, NY 10952-0587
Tel: 914-425-4258
Fax: 914-425-3018


Breslov Charitable Foundation
33, Waterpark Road
Salford, M7 OFT
Tel: 061-795-1251

May HaShem inscribe us this year, and every year, in the Book of the Righteous, for good health and success in all our endeavors. And, may we all merit to see the Coming of the Mashiach, the Ingathering of the Exiles and the Rebuilding of the Holy Temple, Amen.

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