Question: Where is the best place to find English information on traveling to Uman next Rosh Hashannah g’w?
Hello, Firstly we have some Uman information on our website at http://breslov.org//Uman/index.html
Also, in honor of your question I will give you the link to the book entitled Uman, Uman, Rosh Hashanah originally published by Breslov Research back in ’91, it is: http://www.breslov.com/bri/umanrh.html It really needs to be updated but has some great history and other info in it.
When you say next Rosh Hashanah, there is still time for this year! Here is what you do: Simple go online to your favorite travel website, if you are leaving from the US, you will generally want to look at booking flights about 2 days before Yom Tov, the Tikkun begins at the time of the last Slichos before Rosh Hashanah which is about a 12 hours before Yom Tov (however the main thing is to be there any time before Yom Tov.) You have to assume that you need time to fly to Europe and transfer on to a Kiev bound flight, usually this process takes approximately 12 hours.
Once you arrive in Kiev and check out of Border Control (US and Canadian passport holders no longer need a visa) you will proceed to get your luggage and make your way to the front of the terminal. Once there, you will find plenty of shared travel options to Uman. You can ask any of the Chassidim travelling (there will be thousands) if they have room in their van, bus or cab. The cheapest way is by shared van or bus, which costs about $30 a head. If you take a private cab, look at around $150 and up as the going rate. By the way, many Ukrainian cab drivers are familiar with many of the other Jewish holy sites, this is big business in Ukraine.
Once you get to Uman, there is usually some kind of security/passport control/mafia group that will hold you up for a few minutes, don’t be nervous, they just want to check your passport and charge your driver a few bucks. Never give the driver any extra money and don’t give him more than half the money before you arrive in Uman. Now you need a bed and some food. For a quick snack there is usually free 24/7 coffee and snack “Hachnoset Orchim” center set up. You can help yourself to a hot drink and pastry. If not, you can always find some entrepreneurial Chassid looking to make a quick buck selling some food (Last year they even sold something they said was supposed to be pizza.) In any case, you should make sure there is some kind of Kosher Certification, as there has been some problems reported in the past. There are places you can prepay before Yom Tov for meals, you will have to look and ask around. You should definitely bring what you can from home if possible. As far as beds go, there are heated tents with bunk beds available for cheap, some even come with meals included – a package deal. Or you can comb the streets and find some nice looking English speaking people who are looking from some people to share the costs of a rented Jewish (more expensive and cleaner) or Russian (I don’t think I need describe) apartment with them. There is a place where you can secure your valuables for a couple bucks. Also, many “Jewish” apartment will have a safe in one the walls for you to use. Last but not least a seat for davening. You can find lots of different Minyanim in Uman: Satmar, Chabad, Litvish, Sephardic, Taiman etc… Most have room and are free to join. However, if you would like to daven in the biggest Minyan the famous “Kloyz,” you will need to either stand, or scalp a ticket after the slichos in the morning before Rosh Hashanah. This can cost you between $150-300 depending on the seat.
There is much more to say and explain. We know as Breslover Chassidim that Rebbe Nachman told his Chassidim on the last Rosh Hashanah of his life: (He died about two weeks later) “There is nothing greater than to come to me for Rosh Hashanah.” The Satan does not want us to come and makes all kinds of distractions. The main thing is to pray and not worry. In the end all the arrangements fall into place. If you really want to come, you will make it, no matter what.
Hope to see you there this year.