VILNIUS—Ruta Bloshtein, a native and resident of the Lithuanian capital, and stalwart of its small Orthodox community, has launched an international petition via Change.org asking the leaders of Lithuania to move the project for a national convention center away from the old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt where many thousands of the city’s Jewish citizens were buried from the 15th to the 19th centuries. It is one of East European Jewry’s most sacred sites. Many of its gravestones were lovingly preserved or renewed right up to the Holocaust, in which around 99% of Vilna’s Jewish community perished.
Launched on 14 December 2016, the petition acquired, during its first day, the signatures of both Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, Chabad rabbi in Lithuania for 22 years, and of the official community’s rabbi for Lithuania, Rabbi Kalev Krelin, rapidly uniting Jewish religious opposition to the project. There has been substantial local and international opposition, from Jewish and non-Jewish quarters, to the desecration of the old cemetery at Piramónt in the Šnipiškės (Shnípishok) district. An extensive paper trail has been generated.