The restitution of Judaica is important in itself but is also important for ensuring knowledge of the history of the Shoah and for remembrance. Judaica has also been the subject of extensive restitution efforts commencing immediately after the end of the Shoah. By "Judaica" is meant historical and literary materials relating to Judaism. Included are not only objects that carry a quality of holiness (tashmishey kedusha) or that are essential to the performance of a particular ritual or commandment (tashmishey mitzvah) but also archives and libraries generally, and not only materials relating to Judaism as a religion but also to Jewish organizations and Jewish life generally. The current priority in this area is gathering data regarding Judaica known to be in non-Jewish hands especially in places where such Judaica may be at risk (e.g. Eastern Europe).
Projects in this area include:
- Holocaust Era Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property: A World-Wide Overview, paper presented at Prague Conference, June 2009: In June, 2009, 47 nations, observer countries, and relevant non-governmental organizations including the Claims Conference and the WJRO convened for a follow-up to the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in Prague.
- Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica:
The Descriptive Catalogue of Looted Judaica, compiled by the WJRO and Claims Conference, provides a worldwide “snapshot” of what is known concerning
the fate of Judaica that was spoliated by Nazi Germany and its allies.
- Materials for Training in Research on the Provenance of Judaica:
Developing materials to train professional curatorial, archival, and library
staffs in the intricacies of provenance research.
- Judaica Provenance Projects of Strategic Importance: Making institutional
allocations to projects that identify and catalog Jewish collections displaced
as a result of the Holocaust. Please see section on Allocation Grants.
- Protecting Judaica and Extending the Registration of Torahs to Eastern
Europe: Bringing together several organizations for a coordinated campaign
of registering Torah scrolls in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
This can establish provenance, lessen theft and black market activity, and
serve as the basis to discuss restitution of Torah scrolls currently in government
Information on the Universal Torah Registry and Machon Ott has recently been
provided to relevant organizations and persons in Ukraine.
Through these activities and others that may be developed in the future, the
Claims Conference and the WJRO are attempting to make available as much information
as possible on the subject, as well as to ensure a fair and just claims process.