Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok)

The Lithuanian Government’s New Commission on Lithuanian Jewish Heritage



D O C U M E N T S

The following English version of the Lithuanian government’s announcement of its new state commission on Jewish heritage was released today. A PDF of the entire document is available here. An excerpt containing the mission statement is available here.

Update of 22 July 2015: Evidence mounts that the “Heritage Commission” was set up by the Lithuanian government, in part, to cover for the decision, at the same time, to proceed with a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt. One or more members of the commmision are also members of the state’s “red-brown commission” that promotes Double Genocide revisionism of Holocaust history; of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad; of a London rabbinic group that profits from “selling rights” to build on cemeteries under its expensive supervision. See the narrative and the paper trail (where color-coding marks the heritage commission’s adventures in purple).

Update of 22 June 2015: See now our report on the recent history of the Vilnius cemetery dispute. See also the statement from Herbert Block’s office about his own membership in the commission below.

Update of 1 June 2015: See now the 1 May listing of twelve major issues for the commission (with 1 June addendum) and the media chronicle of the renewed dispute over construction of a congress and entertainment complex on the site of Vilna’s Old Jewish cemetery.

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Stated Purposes of Lithuanian Government’s New Commission on Jewish Heritage



D O C U M E N T S

The following excerpt from the Lithuanian government’s documents, released today, explains the purposes of the new state commission on Jewish heritage. It is excerpted from longer documents available here and here. Updates on the commission’s history will appear on this page.

FOR UPDATES SEE HERE

But was it all part of a massive ruse to cover up for the 25 million dollar convention center planned for the heart of the old Jewish cemetery in Vilna?

 

Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Double Games, Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Stated Purposes of Lithuanian Government’s New Commission on Jewish Heritage

When the Lithuanian Prime Minister Interrupts his Schedule to Greet Some Very Non-Litvak Rabbis from London



Trix & Treats for Londoners in Vilnius?

Why did Lithuania’s Prime Minister Entertain Non-Litvak (“Galitsyáner”) Rabbis from London to “Permit” a $25,000,000 Convention Center Project in the Heart of the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?

All three Vilnius rabbis were excluded from the conversation. And — an international (secular) “Heritage Commission” was set up to “save” Jewish cemeteries…

PM Welcomes CPJCE (2 photos)

Above: Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius welcomes London-based rabbis from CPJCE who “permitted” a  $25,000,000 convention center project for the middle of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery. Below: Government’s top Jewish affairs maestro Lina Saulėnaitė entertains the delegation. PM is 3rd from left. A 2009 U.S. State Department cable refers to these rabbis being paid $100,000 for “supervising” some “beautification” and “exploratory digging” but what are they being paid this time, for “supervising” construction of the convention and entertainment center? IMAGE: Stills from the Lrytas.lt Lituanian TV video.

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Twelve Issues in the Preservation of Lithuania’s Material Jewish Heritage (2015)



O P I N I O N

Note: Inspired by a Lithuanian government announcement (reported also on Delfi) of a new state-sponsored commission on these issues, and on the eve of its first international meeting in early May 2015, this list, the opinion of DH’s editor (who has benefited from discussions with specialists and the Holocaust survivor community in Lithuania), is offered in the spirit of a contribution to the debate on what is now most urgent in this field — what is morally pressing and unpostponable, and, also, what is, in general, not currently being dealt with by existing agencies, NGOs, projects and individuals. A proposed “urgent” list is ipso facto not an omnibus listing of issues, or of specific projects that are doing good work in their own areas; it is a list of what is “acute” rather than what is “chronic.” For more information, please consult Samuel D. Gruber’s outstanding website. See also our lists of external and on-site resources (including our Agranovski and Levinson sections). Hopefully, a comprehensive listing of issues — including these — will soon appear on the new commission’s own site.

UPDATE OF 1 JUNE 2015:  “THE THIRTEENTH ISSUE”

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Would this Building Project be Pursued if the Cemetery Were the Resting Place of Christians?



O P I N I O N    /   C H R I S T I A N – J E W I S H   R E L A T I O N S   /   C E M E T E R I E S

by Pastor Michael Maass

I would like to make an observation concerning the use of Jewish cemeteries for building projects, as this has come to be a major issue of controversy in Lithuania, and in other nations as well.

I would like to pose a question:  Would these building projects be pursued if the cemeteries in question were the resting places of Catholics, Protestant Christians, or other non-Jewish people?

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Michael & Fausta Maass, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Racism | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Would this Building Project be Pursued if the Cemetery Were the Resting Place of Christians?

New Conflict Over Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, As New Heritage Commission Gets Underway



Updates on the new conflict over the old Vilna Jewish cemetery site at Piramónt (now part of the Šnipiškės [Yiddish: Shnípishok] district), and the related issues surrounding a concurrently established new commission on Jewish heritage will be added here as they become available.

THE PAGE IS HERE

 

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High Intrigue Over the Fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



by Dovid Katz

Updates in [brackets] to 12 July 2015  

VILNIUS—According to Lithuanian media sources, including the highly respected English-language Lithuania Tribune (now merged with Delfi.lt), the government, working in concert with property developers, plans to declare the controversial project of a huge convention and entertainment center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery site as a “project of national importance.” The move enables an application to the European Union for a grant of 13 million euros (14.64 million US dollars at current rates) as part of a grand-total (for now) of 22.8 million euros (25.67 million US dollars) for the new complex. The nation’s prime minister has told Lithuanian media that “after the modern congress center is completed, private investors could build a hotel, parking lots and other infrastructure,” eliciting fears that all of the old Jewish cemetery is becoming a cash cow slated for developers for years to come. The Lithuania Tribune / Delfi.lt report concludes with an estimate of “110 million euros in economic and social benefits over 15 years” in addition to “600,000 foreign tourists and 2.2 million local tourists to Vilnius over that time period, with their spending estimated at 183 million and 60 million euros, respectively,” in other words, with profits from the old Jewish cemetery exceeding the equivalent of 250 million dollars, apart from the millions to be had from the building projects per se. Some estimates are provided in Baltic Course.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Double Games, EU, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, United States, US State Dept Manipulated?, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on High Intrigue Over the Fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Herbert Block’s Clarification on Participation in Lithuanian Government’s New Heritage Commission



NEW YORK—Herbert Block’s office today issued the following statement which in effect modifies the Lithuanian government’s published list of members of its new commission on the Lithuanian Jewish heritage. This clarification is now linked at relevant points in Defending History’s recent report on the cemetery saga in Vilnius.

Herbert Block has informed Defending History that, while he was appointed to the new Commission by the Government of Lithuania without prior notice, and was honored by the designation, he formally resigned this position. As a Member of the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, a US federal government agency, Mr. Block is not permitted to serve on any body appointed by a foreign government.

Mr. Block attended the May 7, 2015 meeting in Vilnius only as an Observer on behalf of the US Commission.

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Herbert Block, Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Herbert Block’s Clarification on Participation in Lithuanian Government’s New Heritage Commission

Rabbi Shmuel Jacob Feffer: Rabbinic Judgment on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



O P I N I O N

by Rabbi Shmuel Jacob Feffer

Editor’s note: The author is president of the World HaGró (Gaon of Vilna) Center in Israel, and co-editor of the Center’s seventy published volumes of the Gaon of Vilna’s works. He has been based in Vilnius around twenty-five years. The original handwritten document, with the rabbi’s signature and personal stamp, is available hereFor background on the issue, see here. For the paper trail to date, see here. A registry of the mounting international agreement with Rabbi Feffer’s position is here.


בסד ח′ תמוז התשע″ה לפ″ק פה ווילנא

זעקת קודש

למען אוהביך שוכני עפר בבית העלמין הישן דווילנא

    אני הרב הדר בעיר הזאת זה קרוב ל-25 שנה ומכיר היטב תהלוכותי′ה ובעיותי′ה, וחרד לעתידה היהודי ועל זכרון עברה הק′ והחשוב כידוע לכל, ועתה ראיתי חובה גדולה בנפשי לצאת בגלוי ולהסיר הלוט בעניין הנשגב דלהלן, ולפרסם האמת ללא צל ספק – העובדות הברורות כשמש בצהרים ולעמוד בפרץ ולא לתת למשחיתים לבוא ולנגוף ח″ו, ואדרבה ביתר תוקף ועוז דקדושה לעמוד איתן על משמרת הקודש למען ה′ ותורתו הק′ והאמונה הטהורה.

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Rabbi Shmuel Jacob Feffer: Rabbinic Judgment on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (Manuscript)



by Rabbi Shmuel Jacob Feffer

Editor’s note: The author is president of the World HaGró (Gaon of Vilna) Center in Israel, and co-editor of the Center’s seventy published volumes of the Gaon of Vilna’s works. He has been based in Vilnius around twenty-five years. The digital text of the judgment is available here. For background on the issue, see here. For the paper trail to date, see here.

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Vilna Gaon Synagogue in Tel Aviv Posts Protest Against Vilnius Convention Center Plan for Old Jewish Cemetery



TEL AVIV—The famous Vilna Gaon Synagogue (Beys Hakneses Ha-Gro / Bet Hakeneset Ha-Gra), founded in Tel Aviv in 1934, issued a poster that has appeared in synagogues, yeshivas and other institutions in various parts of Israel. Reproduced below (sent by a correspondent), it protests plans by Vilnius government and business entities to further desecrate the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt, now in the Šnipiškės district, by plans to build a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of the historic cemetery (background; the paper trail to date). The protest poster is signed by a number of famous rabbis, including Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Halevi, head of the rabbinical court of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and Rabbi Elijah Landa, a direct descendant of the Gaon of Vilna, Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman (Eylióhu ben Shlóyme-Zálmen, 1720 − 1797), who signs on behalf of the entire family.


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Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada Protests Desecration of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—The Central Rabbinical Congress (CRC) of the U.S.A. and Canada today released to the media the facsimile of the original Hebrew letter it has issued concerning plans for a convention center at the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt, now in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania (background; the paper trail to date). The facsimile is followed by an English translation provided by the CRC.

EXCERPT:

“We turn to the enlightened government of Lithuania, and to the European Union, and say: Please Brothers—do no evil! O Heaven! Aren’t we all children of the same father and mother? Why are we different than every other nation, that you decreed such terrible things against us?”

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Israel’s Leading Litvak Rabbis Issue Impassioned Protest Against Convention Center Plans for the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



JERUSALEM—Leading Lithuanian-tradition (Litvak) rabbis who head yeshivas in Israel have signed an impassioned plea for the Lithuanian government to abandon plans for a massive new convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt, now in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania (background; the paper trail to date). Among the signatories to the poster are Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik, Rabbi Israel Isaac Kalmanovitz and Rabbi Tzvi Rotberg. Some of the signatories add handwritten notes with personal observations on the events underway in Vilnius (see lower left area for the handwritten addenda).

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Vilnius’s Shnipishek Jewish Cemetery



O P I N I O N

by Bernard Fryshman, PhD

This article appeared in today’s edition of Yated Ne’eman. The PDF of the original is available here.


First, a brief review: In June 2005, Reb Chizkiya Kalmanowitz discovered construction taking place in the Shnipishek Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius. The Shnipishek Cemetery is where the Gaon of Vilna was buried, as was the Ger Tzedek. Even now, the cemetery contains the bodies of the Chayei Adam and the Be’er Hagolah among many others.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, EU, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, United States, US State Dept Manipulated? | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Vilnius’s Shnipishek Jewish Cemetery

Dancing on Jewish Graves in Vilna



O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg

Editor’s note: Reprint from The Times of Israel, where this article, with several photographs, appeared on 25 June 2016.


I am a Holocaust survivor. I was born here in Vilnius (Yiddish: Vílne), today’s capital of Lithuania, known forever as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” for its vibrant Jewish culture, religious and secular, for hundreds of years. Today our post-Holocaust Jewish community is a tiny remnant, just a few thousand people, but we are vibrant, and, as always, a community of many opinions. Once again, a question has arisen that calls for robust discourse.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Dancing on Jewish Graves in Vilna

A Letter from Leffond, France to the Mayor of Vilnius, Capital of Lithuania



O P I N I O N

by Christian Bonneville


Leffond, France, 5 July 2015

Hon. Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania

Monsieur le Maire,

  • Convention and Congress Center
  • Conversion of the Sport Palace Center along the Neris at the Piramónt Location

Congratulations on your election and your determination to develop the cohesion and the attractiveness of the city to be enriched with new facilities and services including a new Conference and Congress Center.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, France, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on A Letter from Leffond, France to the Mayor of Vilnius, Capital of Lithuania

U.S. State Department’s 2006 Conclusion about the Location of the Sports Palace in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



VILNIUS—The following excerpt from a 21 June 2006 United States report from the American Embassy here to the Secretary of State in Washington deals with questions around the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. The site, known to generations of Vilna Jews as Piramónt, is within the Šnipiškės district (itself in Yiddish: Shnípishok).

The document, entitled “Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius — Overview and Update,” now published at part of the Wikileaks Public Library of US Diplomacy (PDF here) emanates from a period when the “current debate” was focused on two new buildings, rather than on the Sports Palace per se.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , | Comments Off on U.S. State Department’s 2006 Conclusion about the Location of the Sports Palace in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Text of Sept. 2008 Press Release from Experts Group on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



VILNIUS—Because of its renewed relevance, the press release of the Experts Group summarizing the findings of the Geophysical Survey, dated 3 September 2008, concerning the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, is republished:

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Text of Sept. 2008 Report by Lo Tishkach Foundation / European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative



LONDON—The following is an excerpt, relevant to issues today, from Preliminary Report on Legislation and Practice Relating to the Protection and Preservation of Jewish Burial Grounds. Lithuania. September 2008. It was issued by Lo Tishkach Foundation / European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative with the support of the Claims Conference and the Conference of European Rabbis. A PDF of the entire report is available here.

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U.S. State Department’s 2009 Memo Refers to Rabbis Compliant on Old Vilna Cemetery, the Need for Paying for their Supervision, and — Need for Secrecy



VILNIUS—A memo from the United States Embassy here in the Lithuanian capital, dated 27 May 2009, released by Wikileaks  (as PDF) and in the public domain, expressed optimism about solution of the disputes that had arisen over desecration of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery. The cemetery, known to generations of Vilna Jews as Piramónt, is within the Šnipiškės district (itself in Yiddish: Shnípishok).

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Documents, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on U.S. State Department’s 2009 Memo Refers to Rabbis Compliant on Old Vilna Cemetery, the Need for Paying for their Supervision, and — Need for Secrecy