B’nai B’rith International notes the passage of a Lithuanian law that, over the course of 10 years, will channel $53 million into a fund to compensate the Jewish community for seizure of Jewish communal property during the Nazi regime. The money will be used to support programs of education, social and religious services for the approximately 5,000 Jews still living in Lithuania.
“The passage of this law is an important first step towards recognition of the needs of the Jewish population.” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “After a nearly eight year delay by Lithuania to address the issue, it is gratifying that the law can finally begin to serve the community.”
The 200,000-strong Jewish community living in Lithuania before World War II was decimated by the Nazis and their local collaborators. B’nai B’rith is hopeful that Lithuania’s acknowledgment of the need to support its remaining Jews demonstrates a commitment to improve conditions for the existing Jewish community.
“The horrific loss of 94 percent of the Lithuanian Jewish population during the Holocaust can never be forgotten,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The adoption of legislation to compensate the community begins to redress the past and hopefully will help to ensure the future of Jewish life in Lithuania.”
B’nai B’rith International has been actively involved in the process leading to the passage of the compensation law, and was involved in a previous negotiation with the Lithuanian government that led to the handover of hundreds of Torah scrolls, Megillot Esther and Haftarot for distribution to yeshivot, synagogues and other institutions worldwide.
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