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eran yardeni / Alamy Stock Photo

Photo essay: Pilgrimage to Uman

Are pilgrimages as significant as they used to be? Our world appears to become more secular every day, but for many, pilgrimages still play a crucial role in religious life.

The journey to Rebbe Nachman’s grave is one such prilgrimage that thousands of Jews make every year around Rosh Hashana – the Jewish New Year.

Nachman’s grave is in Uman, some 130-miles south of Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The pilgrimage started in in 1810, when Nachman had died at the age of 38.

He was considered a charismatic man who requested this final resting place. And he always believed Rosh Hashana to be a rather spiritual time hence why pilgrims make this journey at this time of year.

But things became difficult when the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 came. Problems making this journey persisted for decades. Some faithful few still took the risk though and travelled to the grave covertly.

Since the end of the soviet era, the number of pilgrims has been steadily climbing again. In 2018, over 30,000 Jews made the pilgrimage to Nachman’s grave.

Many are drawn to the spiritual tones of this pilgrimage. It’s a journey of solitude, a time for introspection, a moment of solace to find oneself.

Documentary photographer, Eran Yardeni, went to Uman to follow the journey himself. This photo essay is the result of that journey.

Pilgrimage to Uman
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eran yardeni / Alamy Stock Photo
Pilgrimage to Uman
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eran yardeni / Alamy Stock Photo
Pilgrimage to Uman
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eran yardeni / Alamy Stock Photo
Pilgrimage to Uman
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eran yardeni / Alamy Stock Photo
Pilgrimage to Uman
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eran yardeni / Alamy Stock Photo
Pilgrimage to Uman
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eran yardeni / Alamy Stock Photo
Pilgrimage to Uman
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eran yardeni / Alamy Stock Photo
Pilgrimage to Uman
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eran yardeni / Alamy Stock Photo
Matt Yau

Matt started off as a live music photographer covering up-and-coming bands in Brighton, and since then has become enamoured by the power of pictures. With a penchant for storytelling, he's on a mission to uncover unique images from the Alamy library and tell the story behind them.

Read more from Matt