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

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

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

Heartfelt Plea for Vilnius Jewish Community to Foreign Members of “Good Will Foundation” (& Rabbi Andrew Baker’s Charming Reply)



DOCUMENTS  |  OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH COMMUNITY  |  THE STOLEN ELECTION SAGA  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  LITVAK IDENTITY THEFT

The following is the text of the public letter from three elected board members of the Vilnius Jewish Community, posted earlier this week, on 12 August, on Facebook (as PDF), and the reply received today, on behalf of the Good Will Foundation, by the American Jewish Committee’s Rabbi Andrew Baker, who is also a medal awardee of the Lithuanian government and a long-time member of its Holocaust-revisionist “red-brown commission” that has caused decades of pain to Holocaust survivors and their families.

Related:

State medals for ambitious Westerners who cover for Holocaust revisionism

Destruction of Jewish community democracy in Vilnius

Rabbi S. B. Krinsky was first to expose the moral issues at stake

Abusing the identity of the fragile, struggling Litvak heritage

Battle to save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from humiliation of convention center

(1) Letter from Vilnius Jewish Community board members to GVF board members (12 Aug. 2020):

  • Andrew Eliot Baker (Director of International Jewish Affairs, American Jewish Committee)
  • Julius Berman (Chairman, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany)
  • Herbert Block (Executive Director of American Zionist Movement)
  • Arie Bucheister (The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany)
  • Nachliel Dison (Acting Director General, World Jewish Restitution Organization)
  • Robert James Grey (Chair of the World ORT Restitution Committee)
  • Michael Hilsenrath (World Jewish Restitution Organisation)
  • Mark Barry Levin (National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry)
  • Daniel Mariaschin (B’nai B’rith International)

For years now, millions of dollars/euros have been squandered on the morally corrupt leadership of passport attorney Ms. Faina Kukliansky, who has disenfranchised the Jews of Lithuania by changing the election rules of the official Jewish Community three years ago into a vote by cronies who themselves mostly receive benefits from the Good Will Foundation, which she herself co-chairs, making it unclear which is the bigger conflict of interest: that of the attorney who needs the gov. to rapidly process her wealthy foreign clients’ citizenship applications, or the Good Will Foundation and the official Jewish Community becoming one and the same complex of restitution resources being diverted to the benefit of the same few parties.

There is by now a large list of sources on the de-democratisation, extreme nepotism and supreme shamefulness (and shamelessness) of the Good Will Foundation’s process for disbursing funds deriving from the value of the religious properties of the annihilated Jews of Lithuania. To cite one of many examples, the official trilingual website of the official community has repeatedly been used as a mouthpiece for Turto Bankas’s and some politicians’ wish to turn the Old Jewish Cemetery into a convention centre, in spite of massive local and international protest, (an international petition by one the Vilnius Jewish Community’s members is approaching 52,000 signatures). The website has been used (in three languages) to slander those community members who disagree. The Good Will Foundation has failed to provide even one penny of support it promised for the democratically elected Vilnius Jewish Community. In a recent reply to a television exposé, the GWF website explained that in reality all decisions go through two boards with eminent international members representing the great international Jewish organisations.

We contend that these international members, enjoying banquets, junkets and honours (sometimes even medals) in Vilnius (and who, unlike locals, have absolutely nothing to fear in the way of career-destroying repercussions) have in fact served as an unethical rubber stamp for the personal benefit of Ms. Kukliansky and her collaborators. They have been assured that their names will remain on some obscure web page. Well, no longer. In the absence of change of policy, we hold each of them as co-equally responsible for the tragic “destruction from within” of Lithuania’s small and fragile Jewish community, and of the oldest and largest Jewish cemetery in Lithuania, all for the private ambitions of one wealthy lawyer and immediate relatives, and a circle of cronies. We call on you to speak out with force and ethical clarity.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), A Stolen Election and a Small Jewish Community's Protest, American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Lithuania, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Heartfelt Plea for Vilnius Jewish Community to Foreign Members of “Good Will Foundation” (& Rabbi Andrew Baker’s Charming Reply)

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?



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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

Historic Petition on Vilnius Cemetery Reaches 50,000 Mark



CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—The international petition launched by Ruta Bloshtein, a native and resident of Vilnius, has today reached the 50,000 signature mark. People of diverse background and many countries are among the signatories. Opponents of the disturbing idea to site a convention center in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery  (with extant graves, albeit not stones, on all four sides), has been resolutely opposed by rabbis in Lithuania in recent years, including, in alphabetical order, chief rabbi of nine years’ standing Chaim Burshtein (who was  fired in 2015 for speaking out); Rabbi S. J. Feffer  (a Gaon of Vilna scholar who has been based in Vilnius for decades, and  issued edicts in Hebrew and English); Rabbi Kalev Krelin, now based in Riga, who was one of the first to sign Ms. Bloshtein’s petition, along with Chabad rabbi Sholom-Ber Krinsky, who has lived in the city for over a quarter century with his family and is now official rabbi of the one functioning synagogue. Only partly in jest, Vilnius residents say this is the first time these rabbis have agreed on much of anything.

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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), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Historic Petition on Vilnius Cemetery Reaches 50,000 Mark

How to Honor Gaon of Vilna in Style?





Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Humor (Of Sorts), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on How to Honor Gaon of Vilna in Style?

Do the Bones of Old Vilna Jewry Still Lie at Piramónt Cemetery?



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

VILNIUS—A recent social media campaign has been spreading the message that there are no longer human remains at the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt, in today’s Šnipiškės section of modern Vilnius, the capital of democratic EU and NATO member Lithuania. Of course within the Jewish faith the sanctity of Jewish cemeteries remains in situ despite earth disruptions. “There is no such thing as a former Jewish cemetery,” Lithuania’s last chief rabbi, Chaim Burshtein, pointed out, before being fired in 2015 for expressing his opposition to “the convention center in the cemetery.”

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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), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Do the Bones of Old Vilna Jewry Still Lie at Piramónt Cemetery?

A “Lurid Display” (& Video) of Mock Euro Notes at Vilnius’s Old Jewish Cemetery


UPDATES TO 4 MAY ENCLOSED IN [ ]

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

VILNIUS—According to a report [full translation here] and photo spread in today’s Lrytas.lt (rapidly picked up on other major portals), a multitude of chairs, each with a mock 1000 euro banknote taped on, were on display today on the still unbuilt part of the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, directly on top of thousands of extant graves covered by concrete slabs from the Soviet era. This is reported as a demonstration coordinated by the National Tourism Business Association (NTVA), the Lithuanian Tourism Association (LTA), and the Lithuanian Hotel and Restaurant Association (LVRA). The NTVA also published a “video of the demo” on Facebook. The video carries one line of text which reads, in translation: “By this action of empty chairs, the tourism industry reminds the state about the unemployed Palace of Sports.”

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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), Politics of Memory | Comments Off on A “Lurid Display” (& Video) of Mock Euro Notes at Vilnius’s Old Jewish Cemetery

Simon Gurevich, Elected Head of Vilnius Jewish Community, Reaffirms Jewish Stance on Old Vilna Cemetery



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

VILNIUS—Today’s edition of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung carries Judith Leister’s article (in German) on issues arising during the current official Lithuanian government celebrations of the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Gaon of Vilna, Elijah ben Solomon Zalman (Eylyóhu ben Shlóyme-Zálmen, 1720–1797).

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Simon Gurevich, Elected Head of Vilnius Jewish Community, Reaffirms Jewish Stance on Old Vilna Cemetery

Is Convention Center in Old Jewish Cemetery Really Best Way to Jumpstart Post Covid-19 Economy?



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

VILNIUS—The major news portal Delfi.lt reported this morning on the economic recovery plan for jumpstarting the Lithuanian economy in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. After reporting on the doldrums of the construction industry, the article cites at length Mantas Miseliūnas, a top specialist on the role of commercial property in the economy. No opposing views are cited. The article, which does not mention the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, the current litigation, the international petition, and the massive international protest, informs readers of an idyllic panacea to the economic downturn wrought by Covid-19:

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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), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Is Convention Center in Old Jewish Cemetery Really Best Way to Jumpstart Post Covid-19 Economy?