Torahs taken from Hungary in WWII found in Russian library

BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) — One hundred Torah scrolls that were looted from Hungary during World War II were discovered in Russia by a chief rabbi of Hungary.

Rabbi Slomo Koves, executive rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, or EMIH, discovered the scrolls and other pieces of Judaica in the Lenin Library in the town of Nizhniy Novgorod. Hungary’s artifacts, among them the famous Calvinist library of Sarospatak in eastern Hungary, were taken from the country by the Russian army during the war.

EMIH and the Russian authorities are holding talks on how to restore and return the Torah scrolls to the Jewish community, according to a statement issued Tuesday by EMIH.

“It is my conviction that any help we can offer for their return to Hungary, to their rightful owners and to their proper use is not only our task, but also our duty,” Janos Martonyi, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs, wrote in a letter to Koves.

The rabbi called on the board of trustees of the Jewish Heritage of Hungary Public Endowment, or Mazsok, to participate in the negotiations and called for the support of the international community to allow the Jewish community of Hungary to recover the scrolls.

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