Chaim Burshtein

Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Issues Statement Opposing Convention Center Project at Old Jewish Cemetery



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VILNIUSThe office of Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, chief rabbi of Lithuania since 2004, today released to the media the following statement, adding to statements of opposition to the proposed convention center at Piramónt. It follows a contrary statement from the head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania published on its website.

From the Office of the Chief Rabbi of Lithuania

Vilnius, 26 Av 5775 / 11 August 2015


My dear fellow Jews in Lithuania,

A primary task of every Jewish community is to care about old and new Jewish cemeteries. The Vilnius cemetery in Šnipiškės (Shnipishok), long known as Piramont, was purchased by the Jewish community for the full price in 1487, and many thousands of the city’s Jewish citizens paid for their and their loved ones’ plots of burial ground. Among those buried there were many of the greatest of our nation: rabbis, dayanim, teachers, authors of books of rabbinical thought and Jewish learning. In virtue of their achievements, Vilna became the capital of the Jewish world for many generations.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chaim Burshtein, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Issues Statement Opposing Convention Center Project at Old Jewish Cemetery

Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Felt Threatened with Deportation after Opposing Convention Center Project at Old Jewish Cemetery



Rabbi Chaim Burshtein

VILNIUS—Flying today from Vilnius airport on a routine commute to Israel, the chief rabbi of Lithuania, Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, who has held the post for over a decade, experienced what he felt was effectively “an attempt at deportation” during the routine passport control check for passengers traveling to non-Schengen countries. He was threatened by the official, who explained he would no longer be free to enter Lithuania, an EU and NATO member state. Rabbi Burshtein explained to the official, quoting the prophet Jeremiah, that he has always followed the Jewish law of obeying the laws of the state in which one lives.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chaim Burshtein, EU, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Felt Threatened with Deportation after Opposing Convention Center Project at Old Jewish Cemetery

Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Halts Excavation of  Holocaust Mass Grave Site in Šiauliai (Shavl)



Media Summary:

Protest statement in DH by Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, Chief Rabbi of Lithuania, is reported by JTA and backed up by Asra Kadisha’s protest. Authorities back down but only after much disturbance of victims’ remains and lurid, humiliating photographs in local media. Jewish Community praises halt in desecration. Statement by Community head Faina Kukliansky. Report in JHE.

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Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Pleads for Preservation of Holocaust-Era Mass Grave in Šiauliai



Rabbi Chaim Burshtein

Rabbi Chaim Burshtein

VILNIUS—Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, chief rabbi of Lithuania (and of Vilnius) today issued a heartfelt appeal to both national government authorities, and to the municipal leadership of Šiauliai (known in Jewish history as Shavl), to call an immediate halt to the excavation of hundreds of victims’ remains from a Holocaust-era mass grave site uncovered during a highway construction project.

The discovery was widely reported in the Lithuanian and regional media, including the English-language Lithuania Tribune (English Delfi.lt). Various Lithuanian media outlets have reveled in publishing photos of skulls, bones and other remains from the mass grave being dismantled, sometimes including shoes and clothing (among others: 15min.ltEtaplius.lt; Skrastas.ltSnaujienos.lt).

The BNS (Baltic News Service) report quotes the official responsible archaeologist, Audronė Šapaitė on the decision reached (apparently without consultation with Jewish religious authorities): “It’s been decided to excavate the remains, do anthropological tests and then rebury them and also mark this place.”

UPDATE OF 16 JULY:

Protest leads to Rapid U-Turn by Authorities

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chaim Burshtein, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Chief Rabbi Pleads for Preservation of Holocaust-Era Mass Grave in Šiauliai