Scammed on the way to Uman

(Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Rabbi Nachman of Braslav is said to have promised his followers that were they to pray at his grave on Rosh Hashanah, even if they were “the worst and most corrupt of sinners,” he would “overturn the very Heavens on his behalf, and from the Most High of Heights would I descend to the Deepest Depths of Hell, to pull him out.”

That promise has turned the Ukrainian town of Uman, where Rabbi Nachman was buried in 1810, into a pilgrimage site that attracts tens of thousands of Jewish men on Rosh Hashanah. (Women are not invited on this pilgrimage.)

Rabbi Nachman, however, did not think to protect his followers from the hell of corrupt travel agents.

Two thousand people who planned to fly from Israel to Uman learned, the day before their flights, that their tickets were canceled. Later, they learned that their travel agency sought to swindle them of a combined $1.3 million.

Police arrested three suspects, all 29, in connection with the scheme. They were charged with fraud, money laundering, and forgery.

Two of the suspects owned the Europnim travel agency, which sold the tickets. They had told their customers that their tickets were invalid because the agency had been the victim of a scam. Police determined, however, that they were the scammers, not the scammees.

Larry Yudelson & JTA Wire Service

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