Dr. Shimon Alperovich, who was chairman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania from 1992 to earlier this year when he retired, gave an interview today on the contentious subject of the project to rebuild the Great Synagogue in Vilnius’s old town. It was lovingly known in Vilna Yiddish as di gréyse shúl or di shtót-shul.
Dr. Alperovich stressed that he was speaking in a personal capacity.
The interview is available, in Yiddish, on YouTube.
Summary in English of the points made:
(a) It is a problem to fill the existing Choral Synagogue with worshipers and the specter of a new synagogue without any worshipers at all does not appeal to him.
(b) There is (and has for many years been) a group that wishes to turn this massive building project into a business for profit.
(c) The vast amount of money involved could be spent in better ways, whether for historical projects or helping the truly needy.
(d) Not rebuilding does not mean doing nothing. Dr. Alperovich mentions construction of an appropriate monument (e.g. a column) and the endeavor to excavate, preserve and make permanently visible to the public the genuine remains (now underground) of the actual Great Synagogue. [The Torah ark’s surround was rapidly dug up a few years ago, and then covered over again.]