Damaged Torah scrolls found by U.S. troops in Iraq’s intelligence headquarters were buried in a New York cemetery.
The burial took place Sunday at the New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon, Long Island, The Associated Press reported. More than 100 people attended the ceremony in the New York City suburb, among them Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S.
“This is a statement by the government and people of Iraq that we are here to respect the heritage of the Jews,” Faily said during the ceremony, according to the AP.
Burial is the method under Jewish law of disposing of unusable religious objects and texts.
Thousands of Jewish ritual items were discovered by U.S. troops in 2003 following the U.S. ouster of Saddam Hussein in the waterlogged basement of Iraq’s intelligence headquarters.
The items were shipped to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., for restoration. They are featured at an exhibit there through Jan. 5.
A number of Jewish groups and U.S. lawmakers have protested plans to return the items to Iraq, where there are virtually no Jews, and want the items to remain in the custody of an expatriate Iraqi Jewish community.