Thousands of Jews across Europe invested in pre-state Israel before World War II. Those proud Zionists believed in the dream of a Jewish state, so they opened bank accounts and bought stocks, bonds and real estate. Many tragically perished at the hands of the Nazis.
However, their investments continued to grow. Where there were no close, surviving or known relatives, these assets went unclaimed immediately following the war and remained so for more than six decades.
In 2006, the Knesset passed a law requiring the establishment of a non-profit organization to find the rightful heirs to these assets. This entity - the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets in Israel, also known as Hashava (which is the Hebrew word for restitution), acts solely for the public’s benefit and without profit. It also supports Holocaust survivors living in Israel, based on the understanding that a portion of the assets in question will remain unclaimed.
Hashava is now reaching out to North American Jews and asking that they search an online and free database located on the Hashava website to determine if they might be an heir to unclaimed assets.
The campaign, which began in mid-September and lasts for three months, reaches out to Jews across the US and Canada through Jewish organizations and institutions, congregations and synagogues as well as a media campaign.
“What differentiates Hashava from other Holocaust restitution companies is that the assets are currently located in Israel and are waiting to be claimed by rightful heirs,” said Dr. Israel Peleg, CEO of Hashava.
“We want to honor the ideals and legacy of those who perished in the Holocaust by making sure their investments reach their relatives, along with some part of their legacy.”
Searching the database of assets is free and only requires that visitors enter their last name, in Hebrew or English, at the following link: www.hashava.info. The process is simple, fast and takes no more than 30 seconds to complete.