Body of missing Israeli man found in river near Ukraine pilgrimage site


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The body of an Israeli man who was missing in Ukraine since Rosh Hashanah was found floating in a river near the Uman grave of the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.

Amir Ohana, 28, was found Saturday by volunteers from Israel’s ZAKA rescue and recovery organization. It is believed that he fell into the river while sitting on the riverbank, ZAKA said in a statement, which noted he was wearing his Shabbat clothes but without shoe or socks.

Ohana, a father of three, was last seen on Sept. 15, when he said he was going into the forests near Uman to meditate alone.

He had a serious medical condition, reported to be epilepsy. Because of his illness, he was not able to purchase insurance for the trip.

ZAKA, whose search team included dogs, a drone and some 100 volunteers from among the Breslov Hasidic pilgrims, said it was working with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Embassy in Ukraine to return the body to Israel.

Ohana’s wife, Meital Tohar, had pleaded for the return of her husband in a Facebook post last week.

Since the fall of communism, Uman has seen the arrival of thousands of pilgrims on the Jewish New Year who come to visit the gravesite of the Breslovers’ founder, Rabbi Nachman.

The pilgrimage has created friction between the predominantly Israeli arrivals and locals, many of whom resent the cordoning off by police of neighborhoods for the pilgrims. Prior to Rosh Hashanah, Ukrainian nationalists destroyed a tent city erected by Hasidic Jews for the pilgrims.


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