Jewish Pilgrimage

Every year since 1811, followers of the Breslov Hasidic movement make an annual pilgrimage to visit the grave of their founder, Rabbi Nachman (1772-1810) of Uman in Central Ukraine.

Since nearly all of the Uman’s 17,000 jews were deported and killed during the Holocaust, it’s hard to believe they choose to return to this Ukrainian city each year. Followers believe their pilgrimage will, after their death, pull them out of Gehinnom, which is loosely analogous to Hell. Last year, an estimated 30,000 people made the pilgrimage even though the Ukrainian conflict was fully developed in the east. I documented the 2014 pilgrimage despite extremely challenging conditions, where journalists and non-Jews are unwelcomed, and photography is in many cases forbidden.