DOCUMENTS | OPINION | 2023 “WORKING GROUP” ON VILNA CEMETERY | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER | THE “CPJCE” LONDON GRAVE TRADERS | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | HUMAN RIGHTS
VILNIUS—Shortly before yesterday’s meeting in Vilnius of the Lithuanian prime minister’s Working Group (commission) on the fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramont in the Shnípishok district (today’s Snipiskes section of modern Vilnius), the commission’s members received the text of the rabbinic edict signed by four of the world’s greatest Lithuanian-tradition (Litvak, Litvish) heads of yeshivas around the world, making clear that no museum, memorial center or other functional building may ever be set up or operate on hallowed Jewish cemetery grounds.
Afterwards, the commission’s members, including those who had flown in from the United States, Israel and Britain, were wined and dined at elegant chancery events in the highest halls of Lithuanian government, in apparent hopes that the commission would go on to rubberstamp plans of the ultranationalist establishment and corrupt business interests alike to effectively destroy the cemetery by reconstructing a huge Soviet ruin in its center rather than lovingly restore the cemetery as a genuine treasure of Lithuania and the storied Litvak heritage. During these events, some members of the commission received an open letter from Rabbi Elchonon Baron, head of the Lithuanian-tradition Yeshiva Ahavas Torah Baranovich, based in Jerusalem, and himself a scion of Litvak royalty. His late father was the legendary Litvak head-of-yeshiva Rabbi Aryeh Leib Baron.
The text of Rabbi Elchonon Baron’s open letter follows.