An influential European body has adopted a far-reaching resolution to preserve Jewish heritage across the continent after accepting an argument made by UK-based activists that it is the “common responsibility” of member states to do so.
The Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) passed the resolution this week following a report by Swiss parliamentarian Raphael Comte, which argued that Jewish cultural heritage “forms an integral part of the shared cultural heritage in Europe and therefore requires a common responsibility to preserve it”.
It sets in motion a process to develop guidance for the protection and preservation of Jewish heritage sites alongside educational programmes on the value of Jewish cultural heritage, to include schools, universities and museums.
Lawmakers said the next step would be to create an award for outstanding volunteer work on Jewish heritage preservation.
“By ensuring the survival of Jewish historic sites, collective memory would also be preserved,” said Comte.
“Valuing and having a deeper understanding of Jewish culture and heritage, which reveal significant cross-cultural exchanges and mutual enrichment with other cultures, will also contribute to inter-cultural dialogue, promoting inclusiveness and social cohesion, and combating ignorance and prejudice.”
The London-based Foundation for Jewish Heritage helped prepare the report. Its chair Dame Helen Hyde said she hoped it would lead to “greater action to preserve Jewish heritage which is particularly vulnerable given the tragic events of the 20th century”.
Foundation chief executive Michael Mail said it highlighted “what needs to be done both to save this heritage, which is still at risk in many parts of Europe, and how to use such sites for contemporary educational purposes, which is especially important in the current climate”.