construction concerns

Lawmakers raise concerns about illegal construction near Breslov burial site in Ukraine

Despite ongoing invasion, ‘we urge the Government of Ukraine to take action to stop the illegal construction surrounding the Burial Place of Tzadik Nachman,’ the legislators wrote

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Jewish pilgrims gather outside the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov on September 18, 2020 in Uman, Ukraine.

Lawmakers have appealed to Ukraine to stop illegal construction near the resting place in Uman of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, as thousands of Jewish pilgrims, many of them from the United States, arrive in the city ahead of Rosh Hashanah.

Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY) initiated a letter, signed by 19 colleagues, to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba raising concerns about illegal construction projects that they allege are continuing inside the protected area around the Breslov cultural site despite stop-work orders issued by regional authorities.

The lawmakers further allege that the city of Uman has issued additional building permits for the protected zones and has retroactively legalized some illegally-built structures.

“We understand that the Government of Ukraine is currently defending its people and country from Russia’s illegal and unjust invasion, and we stand committed to supporting your efforts to defend your country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the lawmakers note. “Nevertheless, we urge the Government of Ukraine to take action to stop the illegal construction surrounding the Burial Place of Tzadik Nachman.”

The signatories noted that they represent “robust Jewish and Ukrainian American communities.”

“The Burial Place is of utmost importance as thousands of our constituents travel to Uman, Ukraine each year to visit,” they wrote. “Rabbi Nachman was a great-grandson of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of the Hassidic movement. Rabbi Nachman encouraged joyous worship and communion with G-d. His teachings, songs, and stories have permeated across generations. We appreciate all you have done to ensure our constituents have been able to travel to Uman year after year.”

The letter was also signed by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), James McGovern (D-MA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Susan Wild (D-PA), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), David Cicilline (D-RI), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Jahana Hayes (D-CT). The lone Republican signatory was Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).