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Jewish Cultural Reconstruction Reconsidered

Should the Jewish Religious Objects Distributed Around the World After WWII be Returned to Europe?


Rena Lipman

As part of the massive art looting that accompanied the Holocaust, Nazi authorities collected enormous quantities of Jewish religious and cultural objects which, after the conclusion of the war, lacked identifiable owners. Having been cut adrift by the Nazis, this “heirless” Jewish cultural property was discovered by Allied Forces and removed from Europe for its own protection. Turned over to an organization called Jewish Cultural Reconstruction (JCR) and distributed to many of the now well-known Jewish museums of America and Israel, these objects were placed in the care of non-European institutions in order to serve surviving Jewish communities and keep the objects protected from still-hostile governments and individuals. Now, sixty years after these objects left Europe, it seems reasonable to pose the question of where they rightfully belong.


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