October 22, 2019

Dancing on Jewish Graves in Vilna

Vilna was one of the most illustrious Jewish communities of pre-Holocaust Europe and a European Union financed project is about to pour millions of tons of concrete on its Old Jewish Cemetery.

Invading Germans and their Lithuania collaborators murdered 206,800 Jews — including almost all the Jews of Vilna shot in the Paneriai  forest— in 1941. They burned all the synagogues and destroyed most of the cemeteries. Under Soviet rule, Jewish relics were further demolished.

For 500 years the Jewish community buried their dead at the Old Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt. But after the war the gravestones were removed, and a Soviet sports arena was built in the middle of the cemetery without removing any remains.

Although the remains of Vilna’s most famous scholar, the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, were removed from the Old Jewish Cemetery, the remains of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jews are still buried there. “>wrote a comprehensive article in Times of Israel in 2015 when the plans were revealed, detailing the international opposition to the convention center idea. The government had promised in 2009 to leave the cemetery alone. “So why would the Lithuanian government continue to pursue the project with ever more political capital instead of simply moving the project elsewhere?” Theories range from nationalistic reasons to political graft and beyond. Meanwhile, plans are moving forward, as opposed to being altered.

If the Jewish community, and other who stand against this desecration keep up pressure on the EU and Vilna’s government, they will have to find a new place for the conference center.

Fighting for the cemetery is mitzvah. As Prof. Leiman points out it seems to be a case of Meis Mitzvah, an abandoned corpse whose burial is obligatory on the one who finds it.

More that 25,000 “> DefendingHistory.com.