One of the stones with visible Jewish lettering stepped on for decades during its stint as a step at the front entrance of the Reformed Evangelical Church on central Vilnius’s Pylimo Street. Photo: DefendingHistory.com.
VILNIUS—More than five years after Defending History’s September 2013 article (“Where You Have to Step on Old Jewish Gravestones to go to Church”), almost four years after Julius Norwilla’s May 2015 impassioned plea (“A Protestant Pastor in Vilnius Speaks Out About Church Steps Still Made of Pilfered Jewish Gravestones”), and almost five since Genrich Agranovski’s 2014 survey (“The Stones Tell Me. After All, They Lived Here”) of Jewish gravestones pilfered for public space in Vilnius, the steps were finally removed last week in the face of mounting international pressure.
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Reformed Evangelical Church (Vilnius)
Tagged Jewish cemeteries in Europe, Jewish cemetery in Liithuania, Jewish cemetery in Vilnius, Jewish gravestonees as steps, Jewish gravestones as paving stones, Reformed Evangelical Church (Vilnius)
VILNIUS—Herbert Block, a veteran member of the American government’s Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, and chair of its committee on the old Vilnius Jewish cemetery, visited yesterday and today for two sessions with staff of the Defending History team here in the Lithuanian capital. Mr. Block is a well-known and beloved figure for the Lithuanian Jewish community, with whom he worked closely for many years (1999 to 2015), during his tenure as Assistant Executive Vice President of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC or “Joint”), where his work included coordinating successful efforts to achieve restitution that could enable the Jewish community’s survival for generations to come. At present, he is executive director of the American Zionist Movement (AZM). Previously Mr. Block served as Assistant Director for Intergovernmental and Public Affairs for the New York City Independent Budget Office (1996-1999) and was Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Relations at the federal Corporation for National and Community Service in 1994-1995. He was Assistant to the Mayor of the City of New York from 1990 to 1993 and Special Assistant to the Manhattan Borough President from 1986 to 1989. For years he has been a member of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) with specialization in the Baltic region and Poland.
Herb Block explained how hard he has been working behind the scenes to ensure the cemetery’s preservation, and pledged his firm personal commitment to work resolutely for the convention center project to be moved to another venue in town — away from Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery.
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad
Tagged Herbert Block (JDC), Herbert Block + American Zionist Movement, Jewish cemeteries in Europe, Old Vilna Jewish cemetery, Piramont Snipiskes cemetery, Ruta Bloshtein, US Commission for Preservation of American Heritage Abroad, USCPAHA, Vilnius Jewish community
BRUSSELS—Back in October, 2015, high-level European Union spokesperson Chiara Adamo had replied to French human rights activist Didier Bertin on behalf of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, assuring the public that
“Contrary to reports in some Lithuanian newspapers and international media, the planned renovation project at the Vilnius Snipisek cemetery is not supported by European Union funds.”
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Documents, EU, Gareth Thomas, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory
Tagged EU and antisemitism, Jewish affairs in European Commission, Jewish cemeteries in Europe, Piramont (Snipiskes), US Commission for American Heritage, Vilniujs Jewish cemetery
KIRYAS JOEL, NY—The “Satmar Headquarters” of the movement’s “Aaronite” branch, partners of the London-based “CPJCE / Admas Kodesh” issued this tweet earlier today, which some observers take to convey the message that the politically connected Hasidic group continues to boast of preventing the “United States Commission for the Preservation [emphasis added] of America’s Heritage Abroad” from expressing even the mildest protest at plans to erect a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of Vilnius’s oldest Jewish cemetery. With the exception of the CPJCE, exposed in Wikileaks as having demanded money for their “supervision” at the same cemetery in 2009 (see Jerusalem Post and JTA reports), major rabbis and rabbinic associations, alongside a variety of Jewish and non-Jewish figures, have expressed unanimous condemnation of the project.
The condemnations include the major groups of Lithuanian (Litvak) rabbis internationally, and also the rival branch of Satmar itself, the “Zalmanite” branch, whose own highest rabbinic court last summer added its voice to the Lithuanian rabbis worldwide. Vilnius has numerous venues appropriate for the new convention center. Some observers remain baffled at the insistence on the old cemetery site, where thousands of graves lie intact, and where revelers would clap, cheer, and use bars and toilets surrounded by a half millennium’s Jewish graves, including major Jewish scholars of the city, historically Vilna, once known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania.
Posted in "Admas Kodesh", Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad, US State Dept Manipulated?
Tagged Admas Kodesh, Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, CPJCE, Herbert Block, Jewish cemeteries in Europe, Kiryas Joel, Piramont (Vilnius, Satmar, Satmar Aharonim, Satmar Zalmonim Zalis, Snipiskes Jewish cemetery, US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, USCPAHA, Vilnius Jewish cemeteries