Ukrainian Torah scrolls have not been returned to the Jewish community, despite a presidential decree.
In spite of Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko’s Oct. 24 decree to transfer Torah scrolls held in Ukrainian state archives to the Jewish community within a month, government bodies and state archives say they are still not ready to do so.
Georgy Popov, head of the Ukrainian State Committee on Nationalities and Religious Affaire, said on the Inter TV channel Sunday that “there are some technical problems” and “it is necessary first of all to make some changes in legislative acts and other documents.”
Aleksandr Bystrushkin, head of the president’s humanitarian department, said the administration will demand adherence to Yuschenko’s instructions without delay.
More than 1,000 historic Torah scrolls are sitting 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. They believe Yuschenko will keep his promise.
The scrolls originally had belonged to synagogues and private Jewish households in Ukraine, and were either confiscated by Communist Party authorities during anti-religion campaigns during the Soviet era or seized by Nazi forces during the World War II occupation of Ukraine.