OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | INTERNATIONAL PETITION | USCPAHA | CPJCE | ADMAS KODESH
CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—The following is the text of the complaint that was filed with the UK Charity Commission by Stone King solicitors here, a firm specializing in the righting of alleged corruption by charitable organizations recognized by the commission concerning. The “Serious Incident Report”, as these are known in the UK, includes the following text:
“Put simply it is alleged that this Charity [CPJCE—“Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe” ], in collaboration, for payment, to the further destruction through development of the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery in the Snipiskes district of the modern Vilnius, the Capital of Lithuania (See Lithuania liveliest Cemetery” in The Times of Israel, 13.12.15). This proposed development has been met with universal protest and condemnation by the international Jewish Community. This includes an international petition which currently contains 45,000 signatures, a letter from 12 Congressmen, oppositions from the 12 greatest Lithuanian origin rabbis and a letter from Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites to the President of Lithuania dated 1.2.18. We set below for ease of reference a list of hyperlinks which demonstrates the scale of opposition.”
US Taxpayer-Funded Commission Taken to Court in DC for Helping Vilnius Builders Desecrate City’s Old Jewish Cemetery
NEW YORK CITY—A New York Institute of Technology professor of physics, Prof. Bernard Fryshman, who is also one of the world’s major advocates for the preservation of endangered minority cemeteries (he helped the US Congress draft its 2014 resolution on the subject) has teamed up with Boruch Pines, a New York based descendant of many persons buried in the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt in the Šnipiškės (Yiddish: Shnípeshok) district of modern Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. Together, they filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on 8 November 2018. Defending History has obtained a copy of the summons and complaint, available as PDF, and below immediately following this report.
Sources in London: Legal Action in Preparation Regarding CPJCE’s Betrayal of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery
UK | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | PETITION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CPJCE
LONDON—Reliable sources in London reported this morning that solicitors are being instructed by a group of international clients whose ancestors lie buried in the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt, in today’s Snipiskes district of Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. For years, the Lithuanian government’s justification for planning to situate in the cemetery its new national convention project, confirmed on numerous occasions in writing, is the “permission of the CPJCE in London,” a group of renegade rabbis who have ignored the pleas of all other rabbinical groups, and all major Litvak (Lithuanian origin) rabbis internationally, to give “permission” for the convention center in the heart of the cemetery. When Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, the then chief rabbi of Lithuania dared speak up in opposition, in 2015, he was rapidly dismissed. In late 2016, Rabbis Kalev Krelin and Sholom-Ber Krinsky were among the first to sign the international petition (see also Rabbi Krinsky’s blog and DH section). Rabbi S. J. Feffer, author of dozens of learned books on the Gaon of Vilna, based in the city for a quarter century and head of its Litvak rabbinic authority, published a powerful ruling in 2017.
Did London “CPJCE” Rabbis Come to Vilnius to “Permit” A Convention Center in the Heart of City’s Old Jewish Cemetery in Defiance of All Major Rabbis on the Planet (Plus Those in Vilnius…)
The London CPJCE has since been exposed by Wikileaks, and in reports in the Jerusalem Post, JTA, and Times of Israel, for taking secret payments for their clandestine, acquiescent agreement. What happened to transparency? Most recently, the elected head of the Vilnius Jewish Community has spoken out forcefully in the New York Times.
Ruta Bloshtein Calls on Vilna Jewish Cemetery Petition Signers to File Complaints Against the “CPJCE” with the UK Charities Commission
UK | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | PETITION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CPJCE
VILNIUS—Ruta Bloshtein, a native of this city and stalwart of its small Orthodox Jewish community, this week published an update to her international petition calling on the Lithuanian government to move its national convention center project away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt in today’s Snipiskes district of Vilnius. Over 43,000 people from several dozen countries have signed her petition to date.
In the update, Ms. Bloshtein calls on people of good will to contact the United Kingdom’s Charities Commission to file complaints against a rogue group of allegedly “cemetery selling rabbis” who allegedly issue permissions for building projects on old Jewish cemeteries on ground zero of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe in return for secret cash payments. They have been exposed by Wikileaks, and in reports in the Jerusalem Post, JTA, and Times of Israel. They are known as the “CPJCE” which stands for “Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe.” See Defending History’s section on the group, and DH’s 2015 open letter (to which a reply was never received). Ms. Bloshtein asks in her update, that when reporting the “CPJCE” to the Charities Commission, its official charity-status number, 1073225, be mentioned.
Chief Rabbi of Western Wall and and Holy Sites in Israel Calls on Lithuania’s President to Cancel Convention Center Project at Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery
DOCUMENTS | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | PETITION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CPJCE
JERUSALEM—The 1 February 2018 letter of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites in Israel to the president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was released here today for publication. In it, the world-renowned rabbi who heads the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, pleads with the president of Lithuania to “cancel this plan to make this site a convention center.” He reminds her of the tens of thousands of Jews buried at the old Piramónt cemetery of Vilna, now in the Šnipiškės district of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. His letter follows the 7 January 2018 letter from the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, and the pleas of virtually all the world’s leading rabbis of Litvak heritage (and many others) over recent years, in addition to many people of good faith of all backgrounds.
OPINION | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | PETITION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CEMETERIES
by Sid Leiman
with photographs and input by Julius Norwilla
Not only the living turn to dust; the dead do so as well. So too the tombstones we erect in their memory. Some people merit having their tombstone stand for one generation; others merit having their tombstone stand for two generations. But in the end, it gradually sinks until it is swallowed up by the earth.
S. Y. Agnon, A City in Its Fullness
Lithuania’s Prime Minister Bizarrely Claims that Conference Center on Old Jewish Cemetery will “Lift” Vilnius…
OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | PETITION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CEMETERIES | VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE | MEDIA WATCH
VILNIUS—In comments reported today by the Lithuanian press service ELTA, the nation’s prime minister, Saulius Skvernelis has announced and hailed the decision to proceed with a national convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery as one that “will lift the Lithuanian capital to a higher level of competitiveness in tourism.” He also notes that “the lack of a modern congress center in Vilnius is the main obstacle for the development of conference tourism in Lithuania,” not mentioning that there are numerous alternative sites for much more rapid and hassle-free construction of such a center.
New Hotel on Top of Old Jewish Cemetery in Wrocław? A Challenge for Poland’s Jewish-Interest Activists and London’s CPJCE
CEMETERIES | HUMAN RIGHTS | POLAND | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CPJCE | OPPOSITION TO VILNIUS CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | VILNIUS PETITION
WROCŁAW—It would be hard to find a better illustration of what is at stake in the current conflict over the fate of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania, than the partly analogous scenario playing out here in this western Polish city that was once the German Breslau (Yiddish Brésle), home to a major European Jewish community. The Gwarna Street Cemetery, just opposite the main railway station, was this city’s first Jewish cemetery, in active use from 1760 until 1856. Although closed for new burials in 1856, it was lovingly maintained, and remained open for visitors until World War II. Several thousand people were buried here.
DOCUMENTS | THE OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | INTERNATIONAL PETITION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CEMETERIES | VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE | HUMAN RIGHTS
VILNIUS—Following Defending History’s publication last weekend of the 28 July 2017 letter to the president of Lithuania signed by twelve United States congressmen, pleading for the new national convention center project to be moved away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius), the news was reported by The Weekly of Vilnius, an elite diplomatic publication on Lithuanian affairs, and then by BNS (Baltic News Service, and in English via the Lithuania Tribune), which put it into the wider Baltic domain. Last Monday, 14 August, there were at least four panel discussions broadcast on Lithuanian TV and radio. The following are full English translations of each of these broadcasts, provided by DefendingHistory.com.
(1) LNK TV: News. With Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Faina Kukliansky, Rūta Leitanaitė, Daniel Lupschitz (Danielius Lupšicas), Deividas Matulionis, Romas Pakalnis, Donatas Stundis
OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | PETITION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CEMETERIES | VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE
VILNIUS—The following statement by Professor Shnayer (Sid) Leiman, appeared today in the respected American weekly Five Towns Jewish Times. It is a reaction to the comments by Lithuania’s top leaders, made after receiving a letter of protest from twelve United States congressmen concerning plans to site a projected new national convention center in the heart of the territory of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). International opposition to “the convention center in the old Jewish cemetery” continues to mount.
In Reply to 40,000 Petition Signatories, Lithuania’s Chancellor Rehashes Reliance on Allegedly Corrupt Group of London Rabbis who Reject Consensus of Litvak Rabbis Internationally
OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | PAPER TRAIL | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CEMETERIES | VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE
VILNIUS—Ms. Milda Dargužaitė, since December 2016 the highly respected Chancellor of the Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, on 2 June 2017 issued a written reply to Ruta Bloshtein, the Vilnius-born Orthodox Jew who last December initiated a petition on the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt, in today’s Šnipiškės (Yiddish: Shnípishek). The petition asks the Lithuanian government to move the national convention center project away from the old Jewish cemetery, and to restore the historic burial ground which dates to the fifteenth century and contains the remains of many of the greatest Lithuanian Jewish scholars. There has been a massive international outcry against plans to cite a convention center in the heart of the old cemetery where revelers would cheer, clap, do politics, sing, drink at bars and use toilets surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves. Ms. Bloshtein’s petition has been signed by 40,000 people, and has been the subject of coverage in Algemeiner.com, Ami, the Jewish Chronicle, Jewish Journal, Tablet, and numerous other publications.
OPINION | PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION | USCPAHA (US COMMISSION FOR AMERICAN HERITAGE ABROAD) | CPJCE | ADMAS KODESH | PAPER TRAIL | CEMETERIES
VILNIUS—The Hon. Herbert Block, a prominent and popular personality known to New Yorkers from his days as the highly successful Jewish affairs liaison for the campaign and administration of New York City mayor David Dinkins years ago has emerged as a major force at the confluence of Jewish-Hasidic, American and Lithuanian-government politics on issues in Lithuanian-Jewish affairs. There are conflicting views about his myriad, and some would say conflict-of-interest laden, entanglements that include a Satmar group in Monroe, New York intent on fulfilling the wishes of Vilnius builders for a convention center and annex in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery of Vilnius (allegedly for the financial benefit of their London followers in the CPJCE), a US taxpayer funded agency that exists to preserve Jewish cemeteries (but has yet to issue a word of protest at the “convention center in the Jewish cemetery” project) and the Lithuanian government’s “Good Will Foundation” that allocates monies deriving from the religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities of Lithuania.
London Beth Din (Rabbinical Court) Issues Summons to Two Leaders of Lithuania’s Official Jewish Community
LONDON—Defending History has learned from reliable sources that The Judicial Division of the London Beth Din (Court of the Chief Rabbi) issued a summons on 27 February 2017 (1 Adar 5777 by the Hebrew calendar) calling upon Simas Levinas, chairperson of the Vilna Jewish Religious Community, and Faina Kukliansky, chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, to “agree to attend a hearing and sign a binding Arbitration Agreement, on receipt of which we will fix a hearing date for the mutual convenience of all parties.”
Ethical & Cultural Level of “Admas Kodesh” (/CPJCE) that is Underpinned by Taxpayer-Supported USCPAHA
The reference in the tweet is to the outstanding 24 June 2016 essay by the eminent Professor Bernard Fryshman in Yated Ne’eman. Professor Fryshman’s critical role in a landmark 2014 United States Congress law protecting vulnerable cemeteries of minorities internationally was explicitly recognized in the applicable Congressional Resolution. Why would a taxpayer supported agency, USPACHA, now be engaged in repeatedly honoring the Satmar-Aaronite sect’s de facto unit for trading away other people’s graves that publicly libels Professor Fryshman and any others who seek to defend the sanctity of human burial grounds around the world?
London CPJCE Spokesman Proclaims a Soviet Ruin in Vilnius to be Lithuania’s “Tower of London” and its “Statue of Liberty”
OPINION | PIRAMÓNT | PAPER TRAIL | OPPOSITION | CEMETERIES
MORE ON THE CPJCE. OUR OPEN LETTER TO THEM. Exposés by Wikileaks, Jerusalem Post, JTA, and DH.
UPDATE: THIS ARTICLE WAS REPUBLISHED IN THE FIVE TOWNS JEWISH TIMES
In a remarkable interview cited today in the highly respected Five Towns Jewish Times, an Orthodox publication based in Inwood, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, and Hewlett, all in Nassau County, Queens, New York, Rabbi Abraham Ginsberg, the PR specialist for the London-based CPJCE (“Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”) is quoted as explaining why, in his estimation, the Lithuanian state feels the burning national-priority need to build a convention center and annex in the heart of Vilna’s historic Jewish cemetery that dates to the 15th century and continues to hold the remains of thousands of Vilna Jewish citizens whose families duly bought their plots over the centuries:
“I asked the rabbi why we are accepting the fact that this excavation and construction that will potentially unearth more bones and destroy many more graves must go forward.
“The rabbi explained that the location is important to Lithuanians because it was in this stadium now in disrepair and rotting that the Lithuanians declared their independence in the aftermath of the collapse of Communism in 1990. ‘This location is Lithuania’s London Tower and Statue of Liberty; they are not letting it go anytime soon,’ Rabbi Ginsberg said.
“He’s a little upset at the American rabbis who met with the Lithuanian ambassador in Washington last week.”
A Year & One Month Since US Commission on Heritage Abroad (USCPAHA) “Reported to Satmar Rebba” in Monroe, N.Y.
VILNIUS—Today marks one calendar year-and-a-month since “Admas Kodesh,” the American affiliate of the London “grave trading unit” called CPJCE (Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe) boasted on Twitter that Herbert Block, a prominent member of the State Department linked Commission for Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad (USCPAHA), came to Monroe, New York to “report to the Satmar Rebba”… Thirteen months later, there has still not been a single public word from the taxpayer-funded commission urging the Lithuanian government to move its convention center project away from the old Jewish cemetery, as now called for by a petition signed by 38,000 people including, in its first moments online in December, the official chief rabbi of Lithuania. The “Admas Kodesh” group had previously, in August 2015, posted triumphant photo-ops with the commission’s chairperson, Ms. Lesley Weiss. Earlier that month, they posted photos of USCPAHA’s Jules Fleischer thanking (!) the Lithuanian Consul General in New York for preserving the cemetery. The same “Admas Kodesh” group so dear to the US taxpayer-funded USPACAHA regularly attacks major Jewish scholars with whom it disagrees, particularly on the Vilna cemetery. One infamous July 2016 tweet refers to the esteemed Professor Bernard Fryshman, who played a major role in the US Congress’s passing of a 2014 law on preservation of cemeteries of minorities, as “Lying Professor Bernard Fryshman” for holding a different point of view on CPJCE / Admas Kodesh role in the Vilnius scandal.
See earlier summary of USCPAHA’s Vilnius cemetery record and DH’s USCPAHA section (best to scroll to bottom and peruse chronologically)
LONDON—The world’s greatest rabbinic authorities are unanimously opposed to the project to construct a 34 million euro convention center in the heart of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery, surrounded by thousands of graves on all four sides. And now, 34,000 people around the world have also spoken up in a new international petition. Nevertheless, one group of London rabbis, the “CPJCE” (Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe [italics added]) continues to campaign for the convention center in close cooperation with the local business interests and politicians. Its Rabbi Herschel (Hershel) Gluck OBE has spoken out in the London Jewish Chronicle, trashing the petition of a Vilnius born Orthodox Jewish woman, Ruta Bloshtein.
Neither Rabbi Gluck nor the Jewish Chronicle mention that his “CPJCE” was allegedly exposed in Wikileaks (reports in the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, DH) for demanding money for their “supervision”. Rabbi Gluck told the London Jewish Chronicle: