Conference of European Rabbis (CER)

Vilnius Chabad Rabbi, Sholom Ber Krinsky, Circulates Appeal on Closing of Synagogue, Cites Concerns on Entanglement of ‘Conference of European Rabbis’ (CER) in Local Shenanigans



OPINION | DOCUMENTS | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | CHABAD IN VILNIUS | CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN RABBIS (CER)

VILNIUS—A public statement distributed via email today by Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, Vilnius’s Chabad rabbi for thirty years, and the only full-time resident rabbi in the city during the three decade period, has by this evening reached hundreds, or possibly thousands, and is in the public domain. Defending History provides the text below, noting that the prime topic, the closure of the city’s Choral Synagogue for several months now on orders of the chairperson of the state-financed “Lithuanian Jewish Community” invokes such episodes in previous years, and had recently been the subject of an earlier public statement by Rabbi Elchonon Baron. Readers interested in more background are invited to peruse the following Defending History sections: Chabad in Lithuania; Lithuanian Jewish Community Affairs; Good Will Foundation (GWF); American Jewish Committee (AJC) and its damaging meddling in Lithuanian Jewish affairs; the Conference of European Rabbis (CER). Moreover, the CER’s erstwhile steadfast defense of the integrity, dignity and preservation of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, has recently been called into question, following an alleged financial agreement with the GWF brokered a year ago by the AJC’s director of international affairs, Andrew Baker, himself a recipient of two major Lithuanian government medals, and one of the two non-rotating co-chairs of the board that alone decides how to distribute the tens of millions of euros of state restitution funding deriving from the allocated value of prewar Jewish religious properties. One of the many effects has been the de facto near-destruction of the democratic Vilnius Jewish Community. Rabbi Krinsky was one of the first, over six years ago, to publicly detail the abject immorality of the Good Will Foundation’s de facto structure and purposes and the power allegedly abused by its two nonrotating chairpersons, from LJC and, unbeknowest to the well intentioned donors to the AJC in America, the American Jewish Committee.

On the subject of the cemetery (unmentioned in Rabbi Krinsky’s circular letter), unsubstantiated rumors have been circulating concerning the CER’s direct or indirect involvement with the officially “Orthodox Jewish” members of the new Working Group set up by the prime minister to determine the cemetery’s fate (with a foregone conclusion of establishing a major events center comprising a refurbished Soviet sports palace smack in the heart of the cemetery, thereby destroying rather than restoring it).

The following is the full text of Rabbi Krinsky’s circular today. Please use the handles in the upper left hand corner to turn pages. Alternatively, the document may be read or downloaded in PDF format.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Lithuania, Chabad in Vilnius, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Chabad Rabbi, Sholom Ber Krinsky, Circulates Appeal on Closing of Synagogue, Cites Concerns on Entanglement of ‘Conference of European Rabbis’ (CER) in Local Shenanigans

Text of 2020 Litvak Rabbinic Decision on Old Vilna Cemetery and Powerful Statement of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER)



DOCUMENTS | VILNIUS | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | CEMETERIES | LITVAK AFFAIRS | HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—In view of diverse characterizations circulating regarding the content of the judgment on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Snípishok/Šnipiškės district), handed down by Litvak Jewry’s highest international rabbinic authority, on 9 February 2020 (14 Shvat 5780), signed also by the late and revered Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (1928-2022) of blessed memory, Defending History is providing the original documents of the certified English translation released by the court, as well as the Hebrew original. This was followed below by the Conference of European Rabbis’ solemn repudiation of any role for the London-based CPJCE, issued on 29 Sept. 2020, after years of documentation of allegedly corrupt activities in the alleged de facto sale of East European cemeteries with which they have no historic ties of any kind.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), The 2023 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Vilnius | Comments Off on Text of 2020 Litvak Rabbinic Decision on Old Vilna Cemetery and Powerful Statement of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER)

Furore over the ‘Baron Memorandum’ to Lithuania’s Prime Minister and Speaker of Seimas


[LAST UPDATE: 15 OCT.]

DOCUMENTS | OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTERCEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | CHABAD IN VILNIUS

First, the documents.

All these recent documents, circulated by now to hundreds (if not thousands) of recipients, whether by direct email blast or by multiple forwards of such blasts (by their own authors’ offices and supporters), are, needless to say, now in the public domain, and form part of an important record for the issues of today, and for the chronicles of history.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Rabbi Elchonon Baron, The 2023 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Furore over the ‘Baron Memorandum’ to Lithuania’s Prime Minister and Speaker of Seimas

Will Working Group Have Courage to Just Say No to New Wave of Building & Profit from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery? And — a Tale of Two Green Buildings



OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER

Is this what “Jewish cemetery restoration in Holocaust-stricken Europe” looks like? For details of the results here of new builds and refurbishments on Jewish cemeteries, click on the image. As the buildings on the cemetery were going up, there was a long parade of government (and builders’) assurances that the dignity of the cemetery would never be violated there. Photo by William Pahl for DefendingHistory.com

by Dovid Katz

On the 4th of May this year, Defending History published the official document issued by the Office of the Prime Minister of Lithuania announcing the members appointed to the latest commission (“Working Group”) on the fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the historic Shnípishok district, today’s Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). In the accompanying Opinion piece, the DH community expressed the view that “Never before has a state commission been empaneled on such a ‘Water is wet’ question. Of course the capital’s last Soviet eyesore (and symbol of brutal foreign domination) should be demolished and the 500 year old Vilna Jewish Cemetery restored. […] The argument that it can’t be touched because its preservation status is sacred and immutable to the end of time is an insult to modern democratic Lithuania and all who hold her dear.”

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, The 2023 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Will Working Group Have Courage to Just Say No to New Wave of Building & Profit from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery? And — a Tale of Two Green Buildings

Conference of European Rabbis Formalizes Ban on London CPJCE Meddling in Vilna Jewish Cemetery Issue



HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

The head of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), chief rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, wrote today to Lithuania’s culture minister, Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, who is often deployed by Lithuanian government agencies to placate Jewish groups with his “love of Yiddish”. The letter forcefully strips the London-based “CPJCE” of any further involvement in the Vilna cemetery saga.

The issue at hand is the fate of the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, that Lithuania’s state-owned Property Bank (Turto bankas) is determined, in alliance with politicians, builders and other partners for profit, to use for a new national convention center, where thousands would each night cheer and clap, drink at bars and flush toilets, surrounded by a multitude of graves of Vilna Jewish citizens going back to the fifteenth century, if not earlier, including many famous rabbinic scholars and close family of the Gaon of Vilna. There has been massive international opposition to the project.

Hopefully, the Yiddish-loving culture minister will raise his voice for the cultural preservation of Vilna’s holiest Jewish site, where so many generations of Yiddish speaking Vilna Jews lie buried. The cemetery lovingly known to generations of Jews in the Lithuanian capital as Der alter feld (‘the old [burial] field’), or simply as Piramónt.

Besides its being addressed to the culture minister, the text of Rabbi Goldschmidt’s letter is especially significant for its issuing an actual edict concerning the “permission” for the “convention center in the cemetery” by the allegedly corrupt London-based CPJCE (“Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe“) who were caught years ago on Wikileaks cables demanding secret payments for their “supervision” of works at the same cemetery.

In his letter, the chief rabbi makes clear the stance of the Conference of European rabbis:

“The Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe does not have the authority to, God forbid, approve the continued desecration of the cemetery […]. On behalf of the Conference of European Rabbis, I want to clarify that the CPJCE lost the authority to liaise with the Lithuanian government on this vital issue, because they did not respond to a summons of the Rabbinical Court, and subsequently do not represent the voice of European Jewry. Let me also be clear that the Conference of European Rabbis no longer maintains an official affiliation with the group. We therefore urge the Lithuanian government to cease all communications with the CPJCE […].”

A facsimile of Rabbi Goldsmith’s letter follows (also available as PDF).  Observers eagerly look forward to the response of Minister Kvietkauskas.

CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN RABBIS
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Conference of European Rabbis Formalizes Ban on London CPJCE Meddling in Vilna Jewish Cemetery Issue

Conference of European Rabbis (CER) Strips London Grave-Trading “CPJCE” of Rights to Meddle Further in Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



 OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT | LONDON’S “CPJCE”  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  MEDIA WATCH

VILNIUS—As Jewish communities worldwide continue to prepare during the pandemic for the Jewish New Year (and roughly three weeks of high holidays) that gets underway on Friday evening, the action on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery has been revving up to a high pitch on a number of fronts. The question revolves around the vast pain caused by government plans to site a national convention center and annex in the heart of the old Vilna cemetery at Piramónt (in the Shnipishok / Šnipiškės section of modern Vilnius).

Conference of European Rabbis Takes Action

In a tweet today, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, for close to a decade president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), confirmed that the body today formally banned the controversial London-based, Satmar-hasidic (“Aaronite sect” branch) from further involvement in the fate of the Old Vilna Cemetery.

Orthodox Jewish media earlier reported on the background to this development, the London CPJCE’s refusal to honor a formal invitation to come before a rabbinical court to explain their bizarre Vilnius activities in near-rapturous fervent favor of the cemetery’s utter desecration.

UPDATE: THE FORMAL ETTER FROM THE CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN RABBIS TO LITHUANIA’S MINISTER OF CULTURE

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Posted in American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Lithuania, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Conference of European Rabbis (CER) Strips London Grave-Trading “CPJCE” of Rights to Meddle Further in Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Conference of European Rabbis (CER) Writes to Lithuania’s President on Mass Grave near Šiauliai (Shavl)



D O C U M E N T S    /   C E M E T E R I E S  &  M A S S    G R A V E S

The following letter was sent today by the president of the Conference of  European Rabbis to the president of Lithuania.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Comments Off on Conference of European Rabbis (CER) Writes to Lithuania’s President on Mass Grave near Šiauliai (Shavl)