Richard H. Weisberg, Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law at Cardozo School of Law was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. In this position, Professor Weisberg accesses the state of culturally important sites and the means to protect and preserve such historic buildings, collections and monuments in Europe that are significant to the heritage and culture of U.S. citizens.
Professor Weisberg was awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest honor bestowed by the French government, for his work with the U.S. State Department and French government, to provide restitution from France to victims of the wartime Vichy regime. As the founding and current president of the Law & Humanities Institute, and the founding and general editor of the Law and Literature periodical, Professor Weisberg brings valuable academic and legal expertise to the Commission.
The Commission works with government agencies and private entities in more than twenty countries. These nations include Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Italy, and Poland.
Prof. Weisberg had been quoted as saying “An opportunity to serve in any governmental capacity is a great privilege and I’m especially pleased to serve on this commission. Its work was designed to respect and extend the memory of Holocaust victims now in the U.S. and other interested citizens by preserving American patrimony abroad from misuse, desecration or expropriation.”
One of the most controversial topics is preservation of burial sites. There is a palpable tension between the desire to preserve old cemeteries for their important sociocultural meaning and the modern economic wishes for new commercial and residential development of prime locations. For example, in Lithuania, there has been a decade-long dispute over an area occupied by the Jewish cemetery established in 1487 in Vilnius where about 50,000 people are buried. More recently, in Israel, the proposed location for the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem turned out to be an older burial ground with Muslim graves.
The Commission is settled with a hard task of finding creative solutions to assist those wishing to preserve cultural heritage in their struggle with those focused on the present.
For more information, please read YU News.