AMSTERDAM (Jul. 11)
A Protestant congregation in rural Holland has finally agreed to part with a menorah that once belonged to a Jewish couple who died in the Holocaust. The congregation, in the Rhine village of Alphen near the German border, has agreed to donate the artifact to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.
In exchange, it will receive a replica of a large menorah now at Yad Vashem.
The agreement is the result of delicate negotiations by the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Michael Bawly.
When the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940, the Jewish couple in Alphen hid their menorah under the floor of the local synagogue. They were soon deported and perished, as did every Jewish family of that village.
The synagogue therefore was not restored after the war. The building was acquired by the Protestant congregation in 1955, but the buried menorah was found only in 1980.
The only surviving Jew from Alphen, a woman now living in Israel, insisted it should be given to Israel. The church refused, saying the menorah was a gift from the nephew of the couple who buried it, their sole surviving heir.
Amsterdam’s Ashkenazic rabbi, Lody van de Kamp, set up a committee to get it restored to Jewish ownership. The Israeli envoy then intervened to defuse an emotional quarrel.