Three U.S. Senators Appeal to Pres. Grybauskaitė to Spare Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery


WASHINGTON DC—Three United States senators, Benjamin L. Cardin (Maryland, D.), Pat Roberts (Kansas, R.), and  James E. Risch (Idaho, R.) today wrote to Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, appealing to her to move the planned national convention center away from the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery to another venue. It follows a similar appeal by twelve members of the American Congress last summer, a wide range of religious, community and religious figures and institutions internationally, and a recent statement to The New York Times by the elected head of the Vilnius Jewish Community, representing the vast majority of Lithuania’s surviving Jewish citizens. Vilnius native and resident Ruta Bloshtein, a prominent figure in Lithuania’s small Orthodox Jewish community, initiated a petition signed by close to 44,000 people internationally.

The perennial justification for humiliating thousands of Jewish graves has been the approval by a group of allegedly corrupt London rabbis, known as the “CPJCE” who are currently under investigation by the United Kingdom’s Charity Commission. Their approvals, contrary to the unanimous views of rabbis internationally who are Litvaks, led to their royal welcome by a former prime minister captured on video. Defending History provides a section on the saga’s history, and a page dedicated to keeping track of international opposition.

In Vilna Jewish culture, the old cemetery is known as Piramónt. It is in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius.

Latest on efforts to save Piramónt from a mis-placed convention center project

The three senators’ letter, released today, follows below and is available as PDF. It is followed by Defending History’s statement.

Cardin-Risch-Roberts senatorial letter to President Grybauskaite

Defending History’s statement of 6 July 2018:

“People of good will everywhere applaud the stance taken by these three American senators of both political parties. All of us who love Vilnius and its people believe that modern, democratic Lithuania deserves a beautiful, sparkling new convention center that will be admired by people of all backgrounds, and indeed, all the historic peoples of Lithuania. It should be a place where people of good will from everywhere come together to enjoy events in harmony. The misconceived plan to build it out of a structure situated by the Soviets precisely to humiliate the Jewish religion, and surrounded by the remains of thousands of citizens of Jewish Vilnius on all four sides, would do much unnecessary harm. Human rights issues are often clarified by the most simple of questions. Would such a fate be contemplated for a major cemetery, of half a millennium’s vintage, of the majority religion and ethnicity of a given country, where some of its major scholars and leaders were buried?

“Lithuania deserves better than for some greedy business interests, their allied politicians, and the worthless ‘permission’ from a corrupt group of rabbis in  London (who have zero connection to Litvak heritage) to lead it to an error of this magnitude. People of good will everywhere hope and trust that President Grybauskaitė will avail herself of the opportunity, and rapidly ensure that the convention center project is moved to another venue, where it will be a pride to Lithuania and all its historic peoples.”

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