Yuschenko pledges to return Torah scrolls


Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko signed a decree Wednesday pledging the return of all government-held religious property.

The Oct. 24 decree, signed after Yuschenko met with Ukraine’s Jewish leaders to discuss government measures to combat anti-Semitism, calls for Torah scrolls held in Ukrainian state archives to be returned to the Jewish religious community.

More than 1,000 historic Torah scrolls are in state-run museums and archives in Ukraine, according to Josef Zissels, head of the Va’ad, or Association of Jewish Communities and Organizations of Ukraine.

Jewish leaders have been asking for their return to help revitalize Jewish religious life in the country.

The scrolls had originally belonged to synagogues and private Jewish households in Ukraine, and were either confiscated by communist authorities during anti-religion campaigns during the Soviet era, or seized by Nazi forces during the WWII occupation of Ukraine.

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