VILNIUS—The controversial London-based “grave selling rabbis” of the CPJCE, alongside its American “Admas Kodesh” branch, has posted on Twitter the recent sensational letter by the doyen of Litvak rabbis, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, writing for the vaunted rabbinical court of Bnai Brak, Israel. The edict, in a rabbinic Hebrew that is perhaps not easily read by most Twitter readers, rails against the a convention center in the cemetery under “rabbinic supervision” (referring to the CPJCE’s project), and forbids the convention center project at the old Vilna Jewish cemetery of Piramónt at Shnípishok (Šnipiškės in today’s Vilnius), and demands the old Soviet ruin be left untouched, stressing that the site cannot, in its view, be used for anything but a cemetery.
The tweet, however, seeks to misinform these groups’ Twitter readers as “supporting the almost 20 year struggle” (!) of these groups. Orwell indeed. The tweet also referenced the deeply controversial role of the US taxpayer supported USCPAHA. [UPDATE of 29 Sept. 2020: The Conference of European Rabbis has explicitly disqualified the CPJCE from further involvement in Vilnius.]
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.
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.
VILNIUS—A member of the United States Congress today provided to Defending History the PDF of the letter sent by Senator Ron Johnson, then (and current) chair of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, to Ms. Lesley Weiss, then (and current) chair of the taxpayer-funded “United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad” (USCPAHA). The letter concerned scarcely believable levels of corruption and wastage of taxpayer money. The 12 page PDF follows below (note the page-turning arrows in the upper left hand corner).
VILNIUS—The following list of “Statistics: Project Funding Allocations” is a screenshot taken today of the page of that name on the website of the Lithuanian government’s Good Will Foundation (GWF). It is also available (with some browsers) in the alternative interactive Tableau format (below the screenshot).
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?
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.”
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)
MONROE, NEW YORK—Ignoring the unanimous views of the world’s leading rabbinic authorities in opposition to the project to plonk a 34 million euro convention center in the heart of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery, surrounded by thousands of graves on all four sides, “Admas Kodesh,” the American Satmar (Aaronites) affiliate of the London-based CPJCE issued a tweet today condemning as “evil people trying to undermine progress” the 34,000 people, including the chief rabbi of Lithuania, who signed Vilnius resident Ruta Bloshtein’s petition calling on the Lithuanian government to find an alternative venue for the convention center.
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:
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.
WASHINGTON, DC—The chairman of “Admas Kodesh” today posted on a public Facebook page the following item and images, including an obviously posed photo featuring the chairperson of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, and Rabbi Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee, a close ally of the Lithuanian government and member of its controversial “red-brown commission” that has caused some pain to Holocaust survivors via its support of Baltic “Double Genocide” Holocaust revisionism. “Admas Kodesh” (‘holy earth) is generally used interchangeably for the London-based CPJCE (“Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”), which is currently involved in a potentially major scandal over alleged payments in return for paid “supervisions” of cemetery desecrations allowed at the old Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. The CPJCE continues to adamantly defend the twenty-five million dollar convention center slated for the middle of the old Jewish cemetery, at a time of virtually unanimous condemnation by rabbis internationally and local people alike. That story was covered in today’s Jerusalem Post.
LONDON—The “Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe” (CPJCE), affiliated with “Admas Kodesh” and the “Aaronite” splinter group of Satmar hasidism, comprising the rabbis received by the prime minister of Lithuania in Vilnius last April, issued an extraordinary press release today, full of praise for the prime minister (which he no doubt deserves), but without even mentioning the issue at hand: the imminent construction of a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of the cemetery. People attending conventions, concerts, and congresses naturally cheer, clap, drink in bars and use toilets. Here they will do so surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves from over a half millennium of Jewish life in Vilna, once known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania.
BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Followers of the Jewish cemetery saga in Vilnius were shocked at the most recent “game playing” by a haredi splinter group allied with Admas Kodesh (“Holy Earth”) and the CPJCE (the London based “Committee for the Protection of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”) that was last April entertained by the prime minister of Lithuania and gave its blessing for a $25,000,000 convention center in the heart of the old Piramónt (Šnipiškes) Jewish cemetery that goes back to the fifteenth century, if not earlier. The group has been implicated by Wikileaks’ release of a 2009 U.S. ambassador’s cable explaining that their quiet permissions for digging and “beautification” comes with big price tags.
VILNIUS—The battle over the preservation of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (now part of the Šnipiškės [Yiddish: Shnípishok] district) has taken some bizarre turns.
In an article that appeared today in English in The Lithuania Tribune, city architects and officials excited by the prospects for the new convention and congress center planned for the heart of the cemetery, announced further plans for its rapid development. Proposals include “a hall for 3,000 people which could be flexibly converted into smaller spaces.” One of the plans cited explains that the center “should not be a venue exclusively for conferences, it should also host concerts and theatre performances. There are ideas to build an annex with a universal ‘black box’ suitable for various events, including circus shows.” Needless to say, there is no mention of any cemetery there, let alone having to ask any rabbis permission for any of this.