The Israel Museum in Jersusalem is refusing to return a Tora cover stolen by the Nazis during World War II to the Jewish community in Leiden, the NRC reported at the weekend.
The 17th century cover for religious scrolls has been at the centre of a dispute over ownership for years and the Leiden community now hope the Dutch government will get involved, the paper says.
The Tora mantle had been given on loan to the Jewish Historical Museum in 1936 and was stolen by the Nazis during the occupation. Four years ago, the Israel Museum admitted it had been given the cover by the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, an organisation established in 1947 to deal with the collection and redistribution of unclaimed Jewish cultural property .
Julie-Marthe Cohen, curator of the Amsterdam Jewish museum, told the NRC it took until 2007 for the Israel Museum to give in to pressure and produce a list of over 700 items given it by Jewish Cultural Reconstruction and without a clear provenance.
‘In addition, there are not enough photos and the descriptions are limited,’ she said.
According to the NRC, Israel Museum director James Snyder says its role is to preserve the cultural heritage of the pre-war Jewish community.
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