Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze flew to a remote mountainous town this week for a celebration of the return to the local Jews of a synagogue that had been confiscated by Communist authorities decades before.
At the celebration in the town of Oni, Shevardnadze joined a 10-member delegation of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee that was visiting Georgia at his invitation.
The 67-year-old former Soviet foreign minister recently survived an assassination attempt.
The JDC delegation head, Ambassador Milton Wolf, said the president talked at length about the history of good relations enjoyed by Jews and their neighbors in Georgia.
About 12,000 Jews live there.
The JDC delegation met with Jewish leaders in Georgia. They also visited a public school that opened this month with a computer class made possible by contributions from the JDC and the local Jewish community.
Delegation members also traveled to Ukraine, where Foreign Minister Genadi Udovenko told them that “the process of renewal of the religious life of Jews in Ukraine is under way,” Wolf said.
About 500,000 Jews live in Ukraine.