Issue 7, Article 5, 11 July 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.

Tuesday 11 July 2000

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

In the wake of a ruling by the district court in the Georgian capital Tbilisi
upholding an appeal presented by the management of a theatre troupe that is
refusing to move out of a building the Jewish community claims is a former
synagogue, the Jewish community has vowed to take its long-running battle to
recover the building to Georgia's Supreme Court.

The country's chief rabbi ARIEL LEVIN described the verdict in favour of the
theatre management to Keston News Service as `shocking'. He claimed that the
court had not taken into account his community's arguments and the documents
they had presented which they believe prove beyond doubt that the building
had been a synagogue until its confiscation during the Soviet period.

While welcoming the ruling, NIKO TAVADZE, the director of the Theatre of
the King's Region, said he is still waiting for the court's written conclusion.
`The court ruled that the building was not a synagogue,' he told Keston by
telephone from Tbilisi on 11 July. `For six years we have been trying to prove
this.' He claimed that during the hearing the Jewish community had recognised
that they had made a mistake, and that the real former synagogue was in a
building twenty metres from the disputed property. Tavadze cited what he
claimed was an admission at the time of the hearing by a local Jewish
researcher who had written a dissertation on the history of the Georgian Jewish
community that he was convinced the building had never been a synagogue.
`After studying all the documents presented to the court the researcher agreed
with all our points,' Tavadze claimed. (See KNS 23 June 2000 for background
information). END

Copyright (c) 2000 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.