Related: The 2015 saga. Paper Trail. DH section. Other descriptions of the same 2009 agreement. The U.S. ambassador’s dispatch mentioning the rabbis’ payment for supervising “beautification” of the grounds. Embassy’s dispatch on the secrecy of the document. What were they actually paid? What were the same rabbis promised in 2015? In the past, the slightest digging in the area revealed human remains throughout.
The Question: Does the agreement (which a US State Department cable, published by Wikipedia, makes clear was supposed to remain secret) really permit a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of the old cemetery (and millions in subsequent development) where people will cheer, revel, drink in bars, use toilets and parking areas on top of and surrounded by tens of thousands of Jewish graves paid for by grieving Vilnius families over a period of more than five hundred years? Comment in 2015 by (inter alia) the chief rabbi of Lithuania, resident rabbinical Vilna Gaon scholar in Lithuania, a Christian leader, a Vilnius Holocaust survivor, Gaon of Vilna’s descendants in Israel at Tel Aviv’s Vilna Gaon Synagogue, and the Central Rabbinical Council of the United States and Canada.
The Jewish Community: At the time of signing, Lithuania’s tiny Jewish community, under huge and multi-origin pressures, was under great duress over concluding negotiations with the government for restitution of some looted communal prewar properties to enable the community’s very survival, and also, busy fighting a vicious antisemitic campaign that year (examples here and here). Absent are signatures of any of the religious leaders of contemporary Jewish communities in Lithuania (the official chief rabbi; the Chabad rabbi; the Machon Ha-Gro rabbi; any of those who help lead religious life including synagogue services and Jewish burials).