GENEVA (Sep. 24)
The site of the Main Synagogue of Zagreb, Yugoslavia, built in 1867 and destroyed by the Ustachi fascists in 1941, will be restored to the Jewish community of Zagreb, its rightful owners, and a new community center will be built, a New York rabbi was told last week.
The pledge was made by Dr. Franjo Tudjmann, president of the Yugoslavian Republic of Croatia, at a meeting with Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan.
In his talk with the Croatian president, Schneier emphasized the symbolic value of rebuilding the Zagreb synagogue at its former location on Praska Street. The site where it once stood is now a parking lot.
Schneier made his request at the urging of the Zagreb Jewish community, which numbers about 1,200.
In response, Tudjmann wrote to the mayor of Zagreb, Boris Buzancic, asking that the City Council authorize the Jewish community to rebuild its community center and synagogue “on the same location.”
Schneier’s request also had the support of the archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Frango Kuharic, who told the visitors, “What was taken away must be returned.”
Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, led an interfaith delegation to Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia.
The Appeal of Conscience delegation also urged Tudjmann to condemn “elements in Croatian public life who resort to extreme nationalism and anti-Semitism.”
The Croatian leader replied that “the protection of all minorities” is required to build a democratic society.
Schneier’s delegation, which spent eight days in Yugoslavia, consisted of the Rev. Leonid Kishofsky, president of the National Council of Churches of the United States; Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, head of the Archdiocese of Newark.; and Dr. Viquar Hamdani, adviser to the Muslim World Congress.
In the course of their mission, which was to ascertain the conditions of church-state relations in the post-Communist era, the group had meetings with President Slobodan Milosovic of Serbia, Yugoslavian Foreign Minister Budimir Loncar and leaders of the Serbian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Islamic communities.