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World Jewish Community Responds With Shock, Horror and Anger

Tomb of R. Shlomo Zalman (d. 1788), younger brother of R. Hayyim of Volozhin, in the Old Jewish Cemetery.

The Lithuanian government and Vilnius City Council recently approved plans for the development of an international conference center on the Old Cemetery in Vilnius (Shnipishok).

NEW YORK - The world Jewish community including the Vilnius Jewish community has responded with shock, anger and horror at the Lithuanian government’s decision to develop a conference center on the grounds of a 500-year old cemetery. The Jewish cemetery located in Piramont (Shnipishok), Vilnius, Lithuania is the same cemetery where the famous Torah scholar, the ‘Vilna Gaon’ was buried. 

In 2005, the country as a newly established sovereign state authorized the desecration of a 500-year old Jewish cemetery (Piramont in Shnipishok) in Vilnius, where two apartment blocks were constructed on the site. 

In 2008, the U.S House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the Republic of Lithuania’s government for the desecration and human rights violation. 

Despite world outrage at Lithuania’s antisemitic action, Lithuanian officials recently announced approval of their plan to develop an International Conference Center on the 500-year old Piramont cemetery, where the famous Torah scholar, the ‘Vilna Gaon’ was buried.

Rabbi Elchonon Baron, a leading Jewish activist who is involved in a number of causes, expressed dismay at the Lithuanian government’s decision. “The government has reneged on previous undertakings with us that it would not proceed with the development. We feel betrayed and badly let down,” Rabbi Baron stated.

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