Minsk, Belarus - Government Urged to Restore Synagogues
Minsk, Belarus - The Israeli ambassador to Belarus has urged the authorities to restore synagogues amid a “disastrous” shortage of prayer houses for Jewish communities in the country.
The Belarusian government should pay attention to deteriorating synagogues, which were built with contributions by the faithful, Ambassador Edward (Eddie) Shapira said at an international conference in Minsk.
“I do understand that there is no restitution law in the country, but there is a wave of religious revival and the state does not only return churches that once belonged to Orthodox Christian communities but also helps renovate them,” the ambassador said.
Mr. Shapira expressed concern about the condition of the “unique” three-story synagogue in Hrodna. Many tourists, including Jews, visit the city, but it is impossible to invite them to the synagogue hit by “devastation,” he said.
The ambassador also voiced alarm over what he called the unwillingness of law-enforcers to probe attempts to incite national hate “even when they are visible by the naked eye.”
He said that a swastika and an anti-Semitic text were sprayed on the building of the Jewish community in Slutsk, Minsk region, earlier this year, condemning the act as a vivid example of racism.
The ambassador called on the authorities to draw up regulations that would prevent immoderate construction work at old Jewish cemeteries and the sites of the WWII mass execution of Jews, and ensure that human remains discovered at such sites be reburied with proper rituals.
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