Peres honors Ben-Gurion 311.
(photo credit: GPO)
President Shimon Peres is due to leave on a state visit to Ukraine this week at
the invitation of the country’s President Viktor Yanukovych.
The two met
last September in New York at the UN General Assembly. They discussed the
projected visit, and Peres told his Ukrainian counterpart that Israel would like
to open a new chapter in its relations with Ukraine. Both countries are
interested in improving bilateral cooperation in trade and science.
of the measures already taken to enhance bilateral ties was the mutual
cancellation of entry visas, a decision approved approximately half a year ago
by the governments of both countries.
In his meetings in Kiev, Peres will
also raise the issue of restitution of Jewish community property, the
preservation of Jewish cultural heritage and the eradication of
According to Josef Zisels, chairman of the General Council
of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and chairman of the Va’ad Ukraine, the
council’s data base has information on thousands of objects and Jewish community
property that were confiscated by the Soviet government.
In the 19 years
of Ukrainian independence, says Zisels, only 60 buildings that were originally
used as synagogues have been returned to the Jewish community, but not the
ritual objects, including Torah scrolls, that they contained.
being kept in government archives and museums – often in poor condition, without
any possibility of Jewish experts gaining access to repair and restore them.
Several old synagogues dating back several centuries have not been returned and
are in a sorry state of disrepair.
The Ukrainian Jewish community is
fearful that because these structures are made of wood, they will eventually
succumb to time and weather conditions.
Zisels is hopeful that Peres will
succeed where local and European representatives of the Jewish community have
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