The dispute surrounding Rabbi Nachman’s gravesite in Uman has been settled.
The four-year conflict between the Bratslov Chasid group that oversees the Nachman site in Uman, a central Ukrainian town of about 100,000 some 120 miles south of Kiev, and Chance Private Construction Company, which threatened to shut down the site, was settled with the help of Aleksandr Mashkevich, leader of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.
Chance, the company hired a few years ago by the Rabbi Nachman Foundation to expand facilities at the site in Uman, first took the Breslov foundation to court in 2005 over unpaid debt. The owner of the company threatened to take control of the property, triggering fears that the Uman site would become inaccessible to the tens thousands of Chasidim who visit every year.
Rabbi Nachman, spiritual leader of the Breslov Chasidim, was born in the city of Medzhybizh in 1772 and died in 1810 in Uman. Since then, Uman has become a mecca for Breslovers.
About 150,000 people visit Nachman’s grave every year. Some 20,000-25,000 Chasidim from all over the world have recently arrived in Uman to celebrate Rosh Hashanah this year. A security system organized by Ukrainian police and Jewish groups has been put into place.
The foundation claimed it did not owe Chance anything since, according to the foundation, the company has not fulfilled its contractual obligations. Several court rulings in the past four years have found in favor of Chance.
Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko intervened following his state visit to Israel and a meeting with the Breslovers in mid-November 2007. He put a moratorium on declaring the site a national heritage site that cannot become private property or be used as collateral in any property dispute.
Mashkevich, who will serve as guarantor of the agreement, declined to discuss the financial part of the agreement.
â€œWe signed an amicable agreement with the construction company and now, through court rulings, the property, including the synagogue and the site, will be returned to the Breslov group and the Chasidim will get an opportunity to fulfill the construction of the great synagogue in Uman,â€ Mashkevich said at a news conference Sunday.
Mashkevich said that during his meeting with the mayor of Uman, they discussed the development of infrastructure for the pilgrims.