After hundreds of years, Torah scrolls will be returned Jerusalem

(Communicated by the Deputy Foreign Minister’s Spokesperson)
January 29, 2002

An Israeli delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior will travel to Lithuania on Wednesday, January 30, 2002, in order to bring over 300 Jewish religious artifacts to Israel. These religious artifacts include prayer books used by the synagogue of the renowned Jewish sage, the Vilna Gaon, as well as other centuries-old Torah scrolls belonging to the Jewish community.

These Torah scrolls and prayer books were rescued by the Righteous Among the Nations to serve as a remnant and final testament to the vibrant Jewish community in Lithuania, most of which was annihilated by the Nazis. The Jewish religious artifacts were later transferred to the basement of the Lithuanian National Library.

Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior reached an agreement with the heads of Jewish organizations on the issue, and following a year and a half of negotiations with the Lithuanian government, he was invited by the government to visit Lithuania and receive the Torah scrolls and other artifacts that will be transferred to Israel – the spiritual center of the Jewish people. The Torah scrolls and prayer books will be deposited in the Heichal Shlomo Synagogue, where they will undergo examinations to ensure that they are fit for use, and they will also be rebound and repaired, where necessary.

The mission to bring the Torah scrolls to Israel will be implemented with the assistance of the El-Al Airline that has subsidized a special flight to Vilnius.