Documents

Letter from a German Soldier in Kaunas, 29 June 1941



DOCUMENTS   |   HISTORY

by Andreas Kuck

The following letter, presented in German facsmile of the original and in a draft English translation, was sent by German soldier Heinrich Sandt (1908 — 19??) from Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania, on 29 June 1941 (the letter is both dated and stamped with the date). He was a member of the 10th Company of Infantry Regiment 89 (later Grenadier Regiment 89). He wrote the letter to his wife Elisabeth about what he witnessed in Kaunas. The 89th appears to have crossed the Nemunas (Nieman River) on 25 June 1941. 

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Posted in Documents, History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Memoirs, News & Views | Comments Off on Letter from a German Soldier in Kaunas, 29 June 1941

New “Rules of the Synagogue” Document Brings Disquiet to Single Vilnius Synagogue



DOCUMENTS

The following new Rules of the Synagogue document appeared in two long-standing dusty frames in the entrance hallway on approximately 29 September 2016, at the Vilnius Choral Synagogue on Pylimo Street 39 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The document, dated 22 September 2016, in Lithuanian alone, replaces a set of rules that were posted bilingually for many years, in Yiddish and Lithuanian. Some members of the congregation believe that these Rules were enacted only after a 27 September 2016 morning services incident, at which a rabbi resident in Vilnius for 22 years was asked by the gabbai (Yiddish gábe, the official synagogue administrator), at a time when the official rabbis were not present, to blow the traditional ram’s horn (shofar, Yiddish shóyfer, Litvak Yiddish shéyfer, Israeli shofár), in the run-up to the Jewish New Year.

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Vanagaitė and Zuroff’s “Mūsiškiai”


[last update]


For the first time, a Lithuanian author teamed up with an Israeli Holocaust scholar in search for the truth about widespread local enthusiasm, seventy-five years ago, for mass murder of civilian neighbors, and today’s failures in coming to grips with that history, in a land of hundreds of Jedwabnes. A genuine historic advance in Lithuanian-Jewish relations is seen in the startling partnership of Rūta Vanagaitė and Dr. Efraim Zuroff in Vanagaitė’s Mūsiškiai: Kelionė su priešu (“Our People: Journey with an Enemy”), published in Vilnius in January 2016. See also the media tracking page on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Operation Last Chance website.

English   Lithuanian   German   Polish   Russian

The following listing of coverage by language (English, Lithuanian, Russian, Polish) is far from exhaustive. The humongous reaction needs to be studied in its own right.

Nov. 2017 Update: Renewed media conflagration launched by the author’s 26 October 2017 PR rollout of multiple initiatives, two of which were directly relevant to the legacy of Mūsiškiai.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Books, Documents, Efraim Zuroff, History, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vanagaitė and Zuroff’s “Mūsiškiai”

Leon Kaplan’s Speech on the 75th Anniversary of the Malát Massacre



Leon (Liova) Kaplan (in Lithuanian: Leonas Kaplanas) is a native of Vilnius, Lithuania who settled in Washington DC in the early 1970s. He founded the Washington Conservatory of Music and is a noted pianist and master piano educator. He returned to live in Vilnius in 2004, and has over the past year and a half been one of the people involved in enabling the major series of events that culminated in a march by thousands, unveiling of a multilingual monument, and launch of an exhibition, book, and film, in the small town (former shtetl) Malát (Moletai, northeastern Lithuania) on 29 August 2016. The day marked the 75th anniversary of the 1941 massacre of the town’s 2,000 Jews, then a majority of its population. This year’s day of memorial events there has drawn wide and varied media comment and coverage

The following is the English text of Liova Kaplan’s speech, provided by his office at the request of Defending History. At the event the speech was given in both English and Lithuanian.


Honorable Guests,

Thank you to all gathered here, thanks to all those whose conscience does not allow them to forget the tragic events that happened here in Molėtai (Malát), and in almost 300 places across Lithuania, seventy-five years ago. Allow me to quote the book Night by Nobel prize laureate, the late Elie Wiesel:

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Documents, Leon Kaplan, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off on Leon Kaplan’s Speech on the 75th Anniversary of the Malát Massacre

Ruta Bloshtein Discovers 1935 Vilna Rabbis’ Condemnation of Plans to Desecrate Old Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt



DOCUMENTS  |  PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER  |  CEMETERIES

VILNIUS—In a strictly private capacity, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, a Vilnius born member of Lithuania’s small Jewish community, whose maternal ancestors hail from the shtetl Tríshik (Tryškiai), has released to the media a remarkable Yiddish public poster issued by the Vilna Board of Rabbis on 30 Nissan 5695 — the Jewish calendar date corresponding with 3 May 1935 — that she discovered in Lithuania’s central state archive. It is an impassioned plea by the Board of Rabbis asking the then Polish authorities in the city to abandon their plans for a sports stadium on the site of Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district), the old Vilna Jewish cemetery that goes back to the late fifteenth century, and where thousands of luminous Litvak scholars lie buried.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Ruta Bloshtein Discovers 1935 Vilna Rabbis’ Condemnation of Plans to Desecrate Old Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt

Professor Dov Levin’s Findings on the Outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust



DOCUMENTS  |  HISTORY

The following is the first column of page 898 of Professor Dov Levin’s entry, “Lithuania,” in volume 3 of Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (Israel Gutman, editor-in-chief; published by Macmillan, New York, and Collier Macmillan, London, 1990, in cooperation with Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, Jerusalem). Further reading on the subject. Eyewitness testimonies.

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Posted in Documents, Dov Levin (1925 - 2016), History, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Professor Dov Levin’s Findings on the Outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust

Jews and Other Minorities in Eastern Europe Concerned by EU Chief’s Addition of a Single Word about Old Jewish Cemetery



CEMETERY PAPER TRAIL   |   OPPOSITION TO DATE  |   DH SECTION   |   BACKGROUND

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.”

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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 , , , , , | Comments Off on Jews and Other Minorities in Eastern Europe Concerned by EU Chief’s Addition of a Single Word about Old Jewish Cemetery

UK’s Europe Minister Again Fails to Offer Even Mild Criticism of Baltic State-Enabled Nazi Worship



UK  |  LATVIA  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  PRO-NAZI MARCHES  |  DOCUMENTS

LONDON—The following is the UK Minister for Europe’s 8 April 2016 reply to his former shadow counterpart, Labour MP Gareth Thomas, concerning neo-Nazi marches in Latvia and Lithuania that occur each year with with substantial government support in the heart of each nation’s capital. For reference, the minister’s 2013 reply on the same topic is appended below.


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Posted in Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Documents, EU, Gareth Thomas, Human Rights, Latvia, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, United Kingdom, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on UK’s Europe Minister Again Fails to Offer Even Mild Criticism of Baltic State-Enabled Nazi Worship

Lithuanian Prosecutor Writes to Jewish Community Head on Alleged Holocaust Perpetrators in Malát (Molėtai)



DOCUMENTSLITHUANIA | POLITICS OF MEMORY | GENOCIDE CENTER | OPINION

VILNIUS—The website of Lithuania’s official Jewish Community today published an English translation of a 2 March 2016 letter (original here) sent by Prosecutor Rimvydas Valentukevičius in reply to a letter from community chairperson Faina Kukliansky. The text of the translation published today follows. The correspondence relates to alleged perpetrators in the northeastern Lithuanian town Malát (Molėtai), where an international commemoration is planned for August 2016.

For other recent interactions with the prosecutor’s office, see our 3 March 2016 report on another request, that for release of  (or action regarding) the list of several thousand names of persons that the Genocide Center now concedes were potentially Holocaust perpetrators.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Documents, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Lithuanian Prosecutor Writes to Jewish Community Head on Alleged Holocaust Perpetrators in Malát (Molėtai)

A Chronology of Latvia’s Pantomime of March 16th Horror: 2012—2016



LATVIA  |  NEO-NAZI MARCHES  |  RIGA WAFFEN SS MARCHES  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

by Monica Lowenberg


Preamble

On 16 March 2012, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office, during his visit to Riga to protest against the Waffen SS legionnaires march, stated in an interview to Latvian State television LTV1 that the “Latvian SS Legion was not involved in the crimes of the Holocaust” but also stated, as he has done each and every year since 1999, “although these units were not involved in crimes against humanity, many of their soldiers had previously served in the Latvian security police and had actively participated in the mass murder of civilians, primarily Jews.” [16]

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Posted in Celebrations of Fascism, Documents, Efraim Zuroff, Latvia, Litvak Affairs, Monica Lowenberg, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on A Chronology of Latvia’s Pantomime of March 16th Horror: 2012—2016

Israel’s Foreign Ministry Faces a Lithuanian Dilemma



DOCUMENTS | ISRAEL | DOUBLE GENOCIDE | RED-BROWN COMMISSION | GENOCIDE CENTER

As the Lithuanian government-sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” (popular moniker for the “International Commission for Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes of Lithuania“), quiet on the international front for a time, announces a comeback global conclave for 17-19 March 2016, suspense is rising as to whether various Jewish organizations, including Yivo and the AJC, but above all the Israel Foreign Ministry, will again be coming on board to legitimize the body that is the midwife of the Double Genocide movement in the European Parliament.

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Documents, Double Games, Double Genocide, Dr. Rokhl (Rachel) Margolis (1921-2015), Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Yad Vashem Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel’s Foreign Ministry Faces a Lithuanian Dilemma

NY Satmar Affiliate of “London Grave Traders” Tweets Triumphant Photos with US Gov “Heritage Abroad Commission” Rep



DOCUMENTS| | US GOV’S “HERITAGE ABROAD” COMMISSION | OPPOSITION TO DATE | PAPER TRAIL | SECTION | EU ASPECTS

KIRYAS JOEL, NYThe “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.

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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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on NY Satmar Affiliate of “London Grave Traders” Tweets Triumphant Photos with US Gov “Heritage Abroad Commission” Rep

Is Lithuania’s President Distancing Herself from Prime Minister’s “Religious Zeal” for the “Convention Center in the Old Jewish Cemetery”?



PIRAMÓNT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  OPPOSITION  |  CEMETERIES

NEW YORK—In response to his 20 Nov. 2015 letter that has been described by some who have seen it as “powerful,” New York businessman Berel Fried, an Orthodox Jewish scholar and descendant of many people buried at the old Piramónt Jewish cemetery in Vilnius received a reply this week from the office of Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaitė. Her reply, dated 18 Dec. 2015, was released today by Mr. Fried’s office in New York City. Mr. Fried has been a frequent visitor to Vilnius and Kaunas for many years and is a celebrated guest reader of the Torah when he visits the Choral Synagogue on Pylimo Street in Vilnius.

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Posted in Berel Fried, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Comments Off on Is Lithuania’s President Distancing Herself from Prime Minister’s “Religious Zeal” for the “Convention Center in the Old Jewish Cemetery”?

Documents Which Argue for Ethnic Cleansing (by Kazys Škirpa, Stasys Raštikis, Stasys Lozoraitis and Petras Klimas in 1940-1941 and by Birutė Teresė Burauskaitė in 2015)



O P I N I O N    /    H I S T O R Y

by Andrius Kulikauskas

01-SkirpaRastikisKlimasLozoraitisBurauskaite

As of October 28, 2015, the home page of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania has a link to an authorative statement by General Director Birutė Teresė Burauskaitė about Kazys Škirpa. She responds to a request for information by the City of Kaunas, which has a street in Škirpa’s name. Škirpa was Lithuania’s representative in Berlin, the leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front, organizer of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet rebellion and Prime Minister of Lithuania’s Provisional Government in 1941. In bold letters she emphasizes:

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Documents, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys and State Holocaust Revisionism in Lithuania, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Human Rights, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off on Documents Which Argue for Ethnic Cleansing (by Kazys Škirpa, Stasys Raštikis, Stasys Lozoraitis and Petras Klimas in 1940-1941 and by Birutė Teresė Burauskaitė in 2015)

Question in the UK Parliament on the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius



UK   /   P I R A M Ó N T   /   O P P O S I T I O N   /   C E M E T E R I E S    /   D O C U M E N T S

LONDON—At the initiative of Monica Lowenberg, Defending History’s London correspondent, UK member of parliament Gareth Thomas (Labour) tabled a question in the House of Commons (no. 14144) on 29 October 2015 on the planned desecration of the old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of Vilnius, Lithuania) by construction of a twenty-five million dollar national convention center. His question, and the reply by the current Minister for Europe, David Lidington, of 3 November 2015, are reproduced below (and available online).

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Posted in Ambassador Simon Butt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Documents, EU, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Gareth Thomas, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), United Kingdom | Comments Off on Question in the UK Parliament on the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius

Satmar Grand Rabbi and Rabbinical Court Call on Lithuanian Gov. to Abandon Convention Center in Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



D O C U M E N T S   /   C E M E T E R I E S    /   P I R A M Ó N T

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—The high rabbinical court of the most populous Hasidic group in the world, Satmar, today released to the media the text of its judgment of 6 July 2015 calling on the Lithuanian government to abandon its multimillion dollar convention center project in the heart of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery. The bilingual text, in rabbinic Hebrew and English, also calls on the American government to exert its influence to save the thousands of graves on the site from further desecration. The document was further signed, with an added note, by Satmar grand rabbi  (der Sátmerer Rébe) Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum on 10 July 2015.

“We were horrified to hear that the government of Lithuania intends to renovate an abandoned building in the heart of the ancient cemetery of Vilna, and turn it into a place of assemblage and entertainment; and invest a huge sum of money to make it into an attraction for the masses from their country and worldwide.”  

— from the Satmar Rabbinic Court’s ruling

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Satmar Grand Rabbi and Rabbinical Court Call on Lithuanian Gov. to Abandon Convention Center in Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Protocol of 26 August 2009 Meeting in Vilnius on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in today’s Šnipiškės)


 


DOCUMENTS   |   VILNA   JEWISH   CEMETERY  AT  PIRAMÓNT

Related: The 2015 saga. Paper Trail. DH sectionOther 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.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Protocol of 26 August 2009 Meeting in Vilnius on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in today’s Šnipiškės)

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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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

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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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Shmuel Jacob Feffer | Comments Off on Rabbi Shmuel Jacob Feffer: Rabbinic Judgment on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (Manuscript)