A Jewish lobby group has issued a lawsuit against the Louvre with the demand tat the museum return the remains of Helen Hamalka that were presumably taken from their burial ground in Israel some 150 years ago. This new lawsuit comes on the heels of a continuing fight to get the French Consulate in Jerusalem to open the site known as the Graves of the Kings tot he Jewish people and allow Jews to worship there.
A suit was submitted a few months ago demanding that the French government and consulate return the lands surrounding the graveyard.
The Grave of Kings is mentioned in the works of Josephus Flavius as the burial site of Helene Hamalka, who immigrated to Israel and converted towards the end of the Second Temple. According to the Talmud, Helene was known for donating large sums to the Temple and was mentioned with regards to numerous Halachik disputes as well.
The site in question, has served as a sight of prayer for Jews throughout the ages and thousands of Jews used to pray there. In 1863, French architect Félicien Joseph de Saulcy began digging at the sight in Jerusalem and destroyed it. He found a sarcophogus, which researchers believe, belinged to Helene Hamalka. de Saulcy took the remains to Paris and gave them to the Louvre.
While a philanthropist, Berthe Amélie Bertrand, bought the tomb in Jerusalem in the name of the people of Israel, the Ottoman rulers at the time assigned ownership of the land to the French Consul.
Attorney William Goldendale said that this new lawsuit submitted by the interested Jewish party known as HaHekdesh, will be combined with the previous suit regarding the ownership of the property. The French government is expected to issue a letter of defense in the coming days. The site was open for Jews to pray in over the past few days for a few hours each day. Petitioners had to pay money to enter the area.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)