Thousands of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims flocked to central Ukraine to mark the Jewish new year Sunday, ignoring international travel warnings as Russia struck more targets from the air and mobilized its citizens to stem losses in the war that has entered its eighth month.

The pilgrims, many traveling from Israel and further afield, converged on the small city of Uman, the burial site of Nachman of Breslov, a respected Hasidic rabbi who died in 1810.

The streets of one of Uman’s central neighborhoods were packed with men of all ages wearing traditional black coats and long side curls. Some chanted prayers. Others screamed, shouted and danced. Advertisements and directional signs in Hebrew blanketed the area.

Some visitors, like Nahum Markowitz from Israel, have been making the journey for years and weren’t about to let the war get in the way this year.

“We are not afraid. If we come to Rabbi Nachman, he will protect us for the whole year,” said Markowitz, who has been visiting Uman since 1991, when the collapse of the Soviet Union made the pilgrimage accessible to foreign visitors.

Besides, he said, he is already familiar with the risk of war and the wail of sirens that comes from living in Israel.

The city, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the capital, Kyiv, typically attracts thousands of pilgrims for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, which begins in the evening Sunday and ends on Tuesday.

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