Tragedy in Uman, Ukraine on the exact date of Rav Nachman of Breslov’s petirah 200 years ago – Shmuel Menachem Tubol, aged 19 from Yerushalayim, was stabbed to death early Sunday morning during an altercation with local residents. After chasing some local men who threw rocks at his family’s car, the victim was stabbed three times in the chest by one of the group. Tubol managed to scream for help and his brother came to his assistance, but he, too, was stabbed and lightly wounded in the brawl that followed. Tubol died in hospital on the operating table from a deep stab wound to the heart. Two of the three assailants were later arrested when they arrived at a local hospital for treatment.The victim, whose family is well-known among Jewish pilgrims to Uman, recently became engaged and was due to marry in two months. According to local ZAKA volunteers, Tubol was always ready to help other pilgrims, be it on their arrival at Kiev airport or at the grave site itself.
Immediately on hearing the news, the ZAKA organization, under the direction of its chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav in Jerusalem, worked round the clock in both Israel and the Ukraine to prevent an autopsy and to facilitate the return of the body for burial in Jerusalem as soon as possible. The organization used its many contacts in Israel and the Ukraine, from the political, diplomatic, business and legal world, in an attempt to avoid an autopsy.
The Ukraine Chief Rabbi Rabbi Moshe Asman, together with Yaakov Zilberman, the head of ZAKA Ukraine, traveled to Uman from Kiev in the early hours of Sunday and organized a group of volunteers to watch over the body. Only after ZAKA volunteers visited the police station was a manhunt launched for the third assailant, who was finally apprehended based on the brother’s testimony.
ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav: “Finally, after a long day of negotiations and pressure, the local authorities agreed to our requests not to perform a full autopsy. Only a ‘local’ autopsy in the area of the wounds was carried out, at which the ZAKA Ukraine representative Yaacov Zilberman was present.”
Tubol’s body is being flown to Israel today, Monday, for kevurah.