Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok)

New Lithuanian Parliament Deadline Looms (Nov. 24), Email Campaign Ramping Up



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

by Andrius Kulikauskas

A heartfelt thank you for all who responded to our urgent call to write the Budget and Finance Committee of Lithuania’s Seimas (Parliament), which met on November 11, 2020. The Committee acknowledged that it received recommendations from 54 groups and individuals to not finance the reconstruction of the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace Building Complex, which the Soviets built in the center of the historic Jewish cemetery at Piramónt-Šnipiškės. The Committee neither approved nor rejected this proposal but simply passed it on to the Lithuanian government.

At this stage in the budget process, we urge concerned readers to send a second email to the Seimas leadership, as described below, before the Seimas’s crucial session on November 24, 2020.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on New Lithuanian Parliament Deadline Looms (Nov. 24), Email Campaign Ramping Up

Dramatic Developments in Case of the “Convention Center Project” in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery


[last update]


JUMP TO INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION; TO DH SECTION


November 2020:

Next Vilnius court hearing: 24 November (Laisvės Prospect 79A, room 205 [check updates]; case no. e2-625-918/2020). On 12 Nov, Lithuanian parliament member Kestutis Masiulis proposed that state funding not be allocated reconstruction of the old Sports Palace, on grounds that within a few years it would again become inadequate, given the huge parking and other needs. His formal amendment to the budget is available online.

October 2020:

Media reports on the previous hearings (of 1 and 6 Oct.): Defending History (1 Oct.), Algemeiner Journal (2 Oct.), SaveVilna.org (4 Oct.) Jerusalem Post (5 Oct); Defending History (6. Oct); Kapines.org (6. Oct); also earlier report on European Foundation for Human Rights involvement.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Rothschild Foundation Europe (Hanadiv): Lithuanian Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dramatic Developments in Case of the “Convention Center Project” in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Is the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace on the Old Jewish Cemetery?



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

by Josifas Parasonis

Iconic roof of the dereleict Soviet sports palace in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. Graphic by  D. Umbrasas / Lrt.lt. In the original publication.

Vilnius’s historical and literary sources confirm that there are a number of burial sites in the city, mostly near Christian and Orthodox churches. Larger cemeteries, including Rasos, Antakalnis (soldiers), Bernardines, Orthodox (Liepkalnis), Jewish cemeteries (Piramont / Snipiskes and Zarétshe / Olandų), Evangelicals (Kalinauskas) and others. The legal regulation of Vilnius city cemeteries started only in the second half of the eighteenth century, when cemeteries near Christian and Orthodox churches were full to capacity (burials ceased in 1865) and separate parishes began burials outside the city.

1487-1830

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Josifas Parasonis, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Is the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace on the Old Jewish Cemetery?

Email Lithuania’s Seimas (Parliament) to Respect the Old Vilnius Jewish Cemetery



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

by Andrius Kulikauskas

As readers of Defending History know from Julius Norwilla’s recent article, this week is the rare and perfect opportunity for our concerns about the fate of the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt to be heard by Lithuania‘s Seimas.

The Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) is approving a package of investments that it will be making in 2021-2023 to pump Lithuania‘s economy as it battles the pandemic. Among the 49 billion euros of expenditures is a line item of 27 million euros for reconstruction of the Vilnius Sports and Congress Building Complex Project. (See page 3 here and page 84 here). In other words, this is money that will fund the endless desecration of the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Email Lithuania’s Seimas (Parliament) to Respect the Old Vilnius Jewish Cemetery

Lithuania’s 2021 National Budget has Over Ten Million Euros Earmarked for ‘Convention Center in the Jewish Cemetery’. November 10th is Last Day for Public Comments on Budget



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

VILNIUS—Lithuania’s parliament (the Seimas) has published the provisional state budget for 2021, along with a timetable specifying that the final date for protests, submissions, and comments from outside organizations (non-governmental and presumably including religious and human rights groups) is the 10th of November.

The budget links to the Ministry of Finance page where the project to erect the new national convention center (not mentioned: in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery), is explicitly cited in a list of other projects that do in fact enhance our nation’s economy:

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Lithuania’s 2021 National Budget has Over Ten Million Euros Earmarked for ‘Convention Center in the Jewish Cemetery’. November 10th is Last Day for Public Comments on Budget

Eyewitness Report of 6 Oct. 2020 Vilnius District Court Hearing on Old Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—There were three observers present at this morning’s Vilnius County Court hearing in the case over the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Shnípeshok / Šnipiškės district): Ruta Bloshtein (author of the international petition that has garnered 52,000 signatures), Edmundas Kulikauskas who has appeared at a number of “Gerbkime kapines” (Respect Cemeteries) events supporting the cemetery’s preservation, and Arkady Kurliandchik, elected board member of the Vilnius Jewish Community.

“Defending History was there”

The attorneys for Turto Bankas expressed their impatience and dissatisfaction with the case’s continuation, which they pointed out further postpones the onset of building works on site. The judge, for her part, was concerned about the apostillary status of the affidavits received as well as an original of the classic prewar map of the cemetery appended by scholar Joseph Klausner to his 1935 book on the subject. At last week’s hearing, reported on in DH and the Algemeiner Journal, star witness Prof. Josif Parasonis, one of Lithuania’s major specialists in building sciences and a cofounder of the current Vilnius Jewish Community, pointed out that the Historical Institute in Vilnius had, in its report, carelessly superimposed the Klausner map on modern maps, falsely leaving the Sports Palace building outside the cemetery, and, Prof. Parasonis pointed out to the judge, serving to place many of the historic graves, ridiculously, right in the middle of the nearby river (the Neris, known also as the Viliya).

The judge, who also called for the plaintiffs to present proof of their descendance from persons buried in the cemetery, adjourned the hearing to 24 November.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Eyewitness Report of 6 Oct. 2020 Vilnius District Court Hearing on Old Jewish Cemetery

Eyewitness Report of 1 Oct. 2020 Vilnius District Court Hearing on Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

The author is chairperson of the Vilnius Committee for Preservation of Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery. A selection of his English articles is available here.

Coronavirus-era court hearings are necessarily small in attendance, but that doesn’t take away from their potential historic import. Our small Defending History team, as usual, monitored today’s hearing at Vilnius District Court in the case brought by over a hundred descendants of people buried in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Shnípeshok, today’s Šnipiškės district in modern Vilnius, capital of Lithuania). They are asking for their family’s burial grounds, purchased in freehold perpetuity, to be defiled and humiliated by erection of a new national convention center based in the current Soviet ruin of Sporto Rumai (“The Sports Palace”) with construction of a large annex from the start. The case if part of a wider movement, local and international, calling on the Lithuanian government to move the convention center project away from the Old Jewish Cemetery to a new and morally clean venue. Issues of human and equal eights have arisen. This would never be the fate of a Lithuanian or Christian cemetery, as pointed out by the European Foundation for Human Rights which has taken an on-the-record interest in the case.

Turning to today’s hearing, the legal question under consideration was the request by the plaintiffs (the 100+ descendants) for the court to stop the planned imminent construction work on the site, or, in legal terminology, “termination of activities which creates a real threat of damage in the future” (Lith. “dėl uždraudimo atlikti veiksmus, sukeliančius realią grėsmę žalos padarymo ateityje galimybę”). It is case no. e2-625-918/2020.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Events, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Eyewitness Report of 1 Oct. 2020 Vilnius District Court Hearing on Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

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.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, 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

Two Visions for the Future Status, Stature & Symbolism of Vilnius (Vilna, Vílne, Wilno)



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

I: City in Love with Its Grand Duchy Heritage, Multicultural Values and Harmony of its Peoples

OR

II: City Intent on Obliterating and Humiliating its Jewish Heritage for Benefit of Some Greedy Business Interests

UPDATES


I


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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , | Comments Off on Two Visions for the Future Status, Stature & Symbolism of Vilnius (Vilna, Vílne, Wilno)

Lithuanian Journalists Report the Costs of Desecrating the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery



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

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Lithuanian journalists are raising questions that the Lithuanian government has yet to answer regarding its plans to repurpose as a modern convention center the Vilnius Sports Palace which the Soviets built on the oldest Jewish cemetery in Šnipiškės. These journalists are informing the Lithuanian public about spectacular increases in projected costs, the rabbinical court’s ruling which prohibits use of the building, the architects who propose reconsidering the future of the building, and the historical documents which show that the Soviets seized the Cemetery in 1940 from the Vilnius Jewish Community, whose rights have yet to be restored.

Skirmantas Malinauskas Publishes Expected Construction Costs of 64 Million Euros

Most dramatically, on September 12, 2020, independent journalist Skirmantas Malinauskas uploaded an hour-long You Tube video. “For the sake of the public interest”, he presented portions of a document leaked to him, namely the technical project submitted in March, 2020 by Karolis Maciulevičius of UAB “ArchiMenai” to Turto Bankas (the State Property Bank). Malinauskas’s investigative videos are supported by 4,000 Patreon subscribers (at about 3 euros per month) and typically viewed by more than 100,000 viewers, and this bombshell may reverberate across Lithuanian media. Skirmantas Malinauskas was until March, 2020 an advisor to Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis. Prior to that he worked as a journalist for 15min.lt, where he wrote detailed articles on September 20, 2016 and June 7, 2016 about problems in the bidding process for reconstruction of the Vilnius Sports Palace.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Journalists Report the Costs of Desecrating the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery

Remembering Rabbi Avrohom Pinter of London, the CPJCE’S Committee Member who was Among First to Sign Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition



OBITUARIES  | UK  |  CPJCE  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

Rabbi Avrohom Pinter (1949-2020), at left, was widely loved for his wisdom, energy, good will and work toward friendship between all the many peoples of his native London

VILNIUS—The sad news of the death last April in London (from the coronavirus) of Rabbi Avrohom (Abraham) Pinter, the beloved principal of Yesodei Hatorah school in Stamford Hill, did not reach his friends and admirers in Vilnius until this week. Readers are referred to Cnaan Lifshiz’s JTA obituary, the piece in Yeshiva World, as well as articles in local papers including the Hackney Citizen and the London Jewish Chronicle. The prestigious school he led was founded after the war by his father, the late Rabbi Shmuel-Shmelke Pinter, a native of Vienna, himself son of Rabbi Chaim Pinter, the head of the rabbinical court of Bukovsk (today in Poland).

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Obituaries, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Remembering Rabbi Avrohom Pinter of London, the CPJCE’S Committee Member who was Among First to Sign Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition

What to Do with Lenin Square and the Sports Palace? Switch Them!



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

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Professor Vladislovas Mikučianis was the master architect of Vilnius who designed Lenin Square. He also led the commission which deemed that the oldest Jewish cemetery in Vilnius had no historical or aesthetic value. And he wrote the review, in 1972, for “Statyba and Architektūra”, of the newly completed Vilnius Sports Palace, which desecrated the cemetery. We should credit him with a devastating but enduring conception of Vilnius that, like a python’s grip, we have yet to appreciate, and so are needing decades to escape. Lithuanian leaders are intent on repurposing the Sports Palace as a National Convention Center, desecrating the cemetery anew. What to do?

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on What to Do with Lenin Square and the Sports Palace? Switch Them!

“Leave in Peace the Graves of Our Great Vilnius Jewish Ancestors”: Plea Leaps from Defending History to Lietuvos Aidas



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

by Andrius Kulikauskas

In 2015, Ruta Bloshtein first publicly spoke out against the Lithuanian government’s unseemly decision that Lithuania’s premiere convention center should be the Soviet Sports Palace, a monstrosity which desecrates the oldest Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. Her article  (that appeared (in Lithuanian and in English translation) in DefendingHistory.com included her plea, “Palikite ramybėje mūsų didžių protėvių Vilniaus žydų kapus” (Leave in Peace the Graves of Our Great Vilnius Jewish Ancestors).

On August 1, 2020, her words became the headline of the main article on the front page of Lithuania’s leading nationalist weekly, “Lietuvos Aidas”. The weekly was founded in 1917 by Antanas Smetona, who in 1918 became Lithuania’s first president. It was revived in 1990, controversially, as the state newspaper of newly independent Lithuania, and privatized a few years later. The weekly has grown in quality under editor Rasa Pilvelytė-Čemeškienė and claims a circulation of 7,000.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Leave in Peace the Graves of Our Great Vilnius Jewish Ancestors”: Plea Leaps from Defending History to Lietuvos Aidas

‘The Power of the Ancient Hebrew Letters’



Arkady Kurliandchik and Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas lead a group in partnership with the Vilnius Jewish Community, in placing stones with Hebrew letters painted  in the traditional gold paint (used to highlight lettering in old Lithuanian Jewish / Litvak gravestones) at the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės / Shnípeshok), site of the abandoned Soviet sports palace and a planned national convention center. Thousands of graves are still there all around the building. The new gold-lettered Jewish stones were variously placed to mark out the approximate perimeter of the cemetery.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Comments Off on ‘The Power of the Ancient Hebrew Letters’

Defending the Cemetery on Tíshebov in Vilnius and Beyond



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

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Where the old Soviet Sports Palace stands within the old Cemetery Wall. A group of Lithuanians and Litvaks are working together to ensure that the wall’s historic path will be clearly marked for future generations of visitors to Vilnius.

“Gerbkime kapines” (Respect Cemeteries) at www.kapines.com is our small team of Lithuanians and Litvaks who are working together locally to defend the honor of the oldest Vilnius Jewish Cemetery, known variously as the Piramont or Šnipiškės Cemetery. The Soviets desecrated the site by building a Sports Palace there. The Republic of Lithuania and the City of Vilnius are moving ahead with their plans to open a convention center there in 2023.

Our team is now reaching out internationally with a variety of activities to join or support. We need writers, translators, researcher, web page creators and maintainers, and we also need donations.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Defending the Cemetery on Tíshebov in Vilnius and Beyond

‘Word of Honor’ of London CPJCE (and a Prime Minister & Ambassador) on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?



?!

Image of the large new annex (right, in red—Californian redwood tone) to be built onto the Soviet-era sports palace in Vilnius, as visualized by the City Council and the government’s property bank, recently announced in Lithuanian and in English (English versions seem to omit images of the new structure).


VILNIUS—The recently approved “final plan” for the convention center complex intended for the historic heart of the Old Vilnius Jewish Cemetery (where a multitude of graves still lie, though the stones were all pilfered in Soviet times) features a prominent new red-colored annex on top of and surrounded by extant graves.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Word of Honor’ of London CPJCE (and a Prime Minister & Ambassador) on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?

Vilnius City Council Session of 8 July 2020: A Swift, Surgical Attack on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

The author is chairperson of the Vilnius Committee for Preservation of Piramont (Šnipiškės) Cemetery. A selection of his English articles is available here.

The triumphant new visualization of national convention center and “red annex” in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, produced at last week’s meeting of Vilnius City Council. Omitted at left: the  two “green buildings” constructed on the cemetery in 2005-2008. The earth and bones removed have never been made accessible. 

On the 8th of July, Vilnius City Council approved the Joint Activity (Partnership) Agreement Between Vilnius City Municipality Administration and State Enterprise Property Bank. The session is available online. The deliberations on the Jewish cemetery are at timecode 19:50 through to 26:43. The new agreement has been heralded, without mention of ongoing opposition, in triumphant mainstream media reports in Lithuanian and English.

The visualizations published show a brand new Caliornia-redoowd colored annex to be built on to the extant Soviet-era derelict former Sports Palace. This comes as a shock to many, as this past January, Lithuania’s ambassador to Israel, HE Lina Antanavičienė, repeatedly promised a group of top Litvak rabbis, on video, that nothing would ever be built outside the confines of the existing building.

One council member, Ms. Evelina Dobrovolska, a lawyer working with the European Foundation for Human Rights, which is (was?) pursuing the preventive case in the courts against restoration of the Sport Palace in the middle of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės), left the meeting for that part of the session, as is the custom for those City Council members whose personal commitments may be seen to be a conflict of interest. But that also meant that there was nobody on hand to effectively offer the Second Opinion (including moral and reputational issues, information on the ongoing court case via a European human rights organization, the international petition, and the scope of opposition).

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius City Council Session of 8 July 2020: A Swift, Surgical Attack on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Authorized English Version of Cemetery Edict by Doyen of Litvak Rabbis



CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

VILNIUS—As reported on 21 February, the rabbi considered the world’s senior authority among the rabbinate  in the Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) tradition, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, issued a major edict concerning the fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in today’s Šnipiškės district). Thanks to a request by Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas of Vilnius, and the assistance of Dov-Ber and Chaya Fried of New York City, the rabbinical court in Bnei Brak, Israel, has issued an authorized and notarized English translation of the original, written in rabbinic Hebrew. The English text is available as PDF, and below (please use handles at upper left to turn pages).

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Comments Off on Authorized English Version of Cemetery Edict by Doyen of Litvak Rabbis

Websites Report that Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Assures Head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ‘There will be no conference center on the cemetery!’



HUMAN RIGHTS  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

VILNIUS—According to a report by the website Save Vilna that also appeared in the Christian News Journal, the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, HE Rolandas Kriščiūnas has personally assured the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Jim (James E.) Risch “that there will be no conference centre on the cemetery.” The meeting resulted from months-long diplomacy by Christian Evangelical journalist Dr. Matthew Anthony Harper of InterMountain Christian News, a prominent campaigner against the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. Over the past year, he has passionately represented the cause in Vilnius and Tel Aviv, in addition to his work as a White House correspondent representing Christian media. Together with a delegation of top Lithuanian tradition rabbis in Israel, he spoke eloquently at a videotaped meeting with the Lithuanian ambassador to Tel Aviv.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Websites Report that Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Assures Head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ‘There will be no conference center on the cemetery!’

Respect Cemeteries in Siberia but also Vilnius



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

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Respect Cemeteries (Gerbkime kapines) is a group of individuals in Lithuania who are working together to keep our country from operating a convention center at the Vilnius Sports Palace on top of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. We are focusing on this crisis as the most vital issue to address in fostering Lithuanian and Litvak friendship.

Our approach is to embrace and explore the value of respecting all cemeteries with special attention to Lithuanian points of view. Arkadij Kurliandchik, an elected member of the board of the Vilnius Jewish Community, advises that we won’t be heard in Lithuania if we portray the fate of the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery as a Jewish special interest issue. Instead, if we care about our general humanity, and if we appreciate Lithuanian issues, then we hope to discover the righteous Lithuanians who will argue with us against cynical Lithuanian politicians and developers, and against their ally, the official Lithuanian Jewish Community.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Respect Cemeteries in Siberia but also Vilnius