New York’s Mirrer Yeshiva Appeals to Lithuania’s Leaders on Fate of Old Vilna Cemetery




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

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—Rabbi Pinchos Hecht, director of New York’s famed Mirrer Yeshiva, issued a two-page letter today expressing an impassioned appeal to Lithuania’s president, prime minister, finance minister, and the Seimas (parliament) budget review team, imploring them to halt the misguided project to erect the nation’s central convention center in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, where thousands still lie buried on all four sides of a Soviet eyesore slated for reconstruction. Protests have been lodged by virtually all the leading Lithuanian tradition (Litvak) rabbis internationally, as well as over 53,000 people who have signed a petition. The saga has been dragging on for years.

The Mirrer Yeshiva takes its name from Mir, in today’s Belarus, that is one of the great Lithuanian yeshivas (Lítvishe yeshíves) internationally, one founded over two hundred years ago in the depths of Jewish Lithuania and one which celebrates its Lithuanian heritage at frequent points in time.

In the letter, Rabbi Hecht writes: “We respectfully request that a […] different location be used to house the Vilnius Congress Center.” It notes that “human rights and dignity do not end with one’s death. The individuals buried in the Snipisek cemetery are the most helpless type of individuals, as they are unable to speak for themselves,” pointing out that “the Holocaust wiped out the very community in whose care the preservation of the cemetery would have been entrusted.”

As for the alleged permission of the notorious London-based alleged “grave-trading sell-the-cemeteries” rabbis of the CPJCE, the letter puts it in diplomatic parlance: “CPJCE is not an accepted representative of the American Lithuanian colleges or of those buried in the cemetery.” In fact, the CPJCE was barred three months ago from further involvement in the Vilna cemetery issue by an edict of the Conference of European Rabbis.

A facsimile of the letter, addressed to President Gitanas Nausėda, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė, and budget review team members of the parliament Simonas Gentvilas, Marius Dubnikovas, Aušrinė Armonaitė, Kasparas Adomaitis, and Mykolas Majauskas, follows. Please use handles at upper left to turn pages, or view the PDF.

Pinchos Hecht Mirrer Yeshiva
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