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New super-size kitchen awaits Jewish pilgrims to Uman

(JTA) — Jewish volunteers have finished building a kitchen the size of a basketball court in Uman, Ukraine, where they plan to prepare 105,000 meals to serve to pilgrims next month.

The new kitchen, donated by philanthropist and entrepreneur Steve Bogomilsky of Florida, replaced a smaller setup used in previous years by volunteers and employees of Uman’s Hachnasat Orchim project: A giant dining hall with 15,000 seats where Jewish pilgrims come to eat before and during Rosh Hashanah.

Some 25,000 pilgrims, many of them from the Breslav hasidic movement, converge in Uman each year ahead of the Jewish New Year to pray near the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav, who founded the Breslaver movement.

Meshulom (Charles) Rubinfeld, who is heading the project in Uman, said the kitchen’s 37 ovens and 17 burners will be used to cook 18 tons of meat, 13 tons of chicken and 105,000 pieces of fish, along with 250,000 challah rolls.

The cattle and poultry were slaughtered in Ukraine by butchers from the Badatz, Israeli’s most stringent kosher authority, who flew in from Israel. Other ingredients, all Badatz supervised, were shipped in from Israel in four containers.

Rubinfeld  said the food will be served in seven meals, 15,000 plates per meal, before and during Rosh Hashanah, which begins Sept. 4.

All leftover food will go to Jewish and non-Jewish charities in Ukraine, said Rubinfeld, who is holding weekly meetings with local officials to increase cooperation and minimize friction between Uman residents and the Jewish pilgrims.

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