Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Life

Among the Na Nachs: Israel’s Dancing, Graffiti-Writing Hasidim

Ha’aretz explores the world of one of Israel’s most colorful subcultures:

There is no escaping them. They have left their mark everywhere in Israel, in the form of a cryptic mantra painted in bold Hebrew lettering on security fences, sleek skyscrapers, graveyard walls, freeway billboards and sheer mountain cliffs.

Dressed in characteristic woven white skullcaps, adherents perform leaping dances on street corners in the secular bastion of Tel Aviv, to techno-Hassidic music blasting from vans bearing the slogan “Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me’uman,” which has informally lent its name to the newest of Hasidic sects.

The Na Nachs, as some of the group call themselves, are an offshoot of the Bratslav Hassidim, followers of the late Rebbe Nachman (1772-1810), great-grandson of the founder of Hasidism. But what separates Na Nachs from other Bratslavers is their belief that a mysterious letter found in 1962 by Rabbi Israel Dov Odesser, a Bratslaver Hasid from Tiberias, was a miraculous message from Rebbe Nachman himself, and that the mantra it contained, which mentioned Nachman and his burial place, Uman, Ukraine, was a “Letter from Heaven.”

A bystander at an impromptu Na Nach dance happening tells Ha’aretz: “They are good people, but they are all crazy.”

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at help@forward.com.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.