The Great Synagogue of Vilnius that was razed to the ground during the Soviet rule should be rebuilt at least in part, however, the idea cannot be implemented in the nearest decade, says Remigijus Šimašius, mayor of the Lithuanian capital.
The Great Synagogue of Vilnius
© DELFI

Meanwhile, former Omnitel CEO Antanas Zabulis and his friends cherish the idea of restoring the synagogue, the library and a conference center for financial support of Litvaks living abroad. Furthermore, they want the elementary school building, which was constructed on the ruins of the synagogue during the Soviet era, to be torn down without delay.

"I have no doubts that the terrible Soviet building should be gone in the future, I mean the more distant future. And the synagogue should be rebuilt either in full or in some more modern manner. However, doing this in the nearest decade would be irresponsible and illogical," Šimašius told journalists on Thursday while attending the presentation of the plans of managing the territory of the synagogue.

Presented by the municipality, the draft proposals envisage paying tribute to the synagogue in the territory next to the Žydų and the Vokiečių streets within the coming two years and upkeep the Vokiečių Street, however, leave untouched the elementary school building constructed during the Soviet rule.

The mayor said that after the last meetings representatives of the Jewish Community of Lithuania stated objections to immediate destruction of the building and rebuilding of the synagogue. Nevertheless, the community's leader Faina Kukliansky supported the idea of rebuilding the synagogue in the future, adding that the building could serve as a museum.

Kukliansky accentuated that the Jewish community had never asked for the synagogue to be rebuilt, however, do not object the plans.

The Great Synagogue of Vilnius was build in 1633 on the foundations of an older 16th-century synagogue. The remains of the synagogue and other ritual and communal buildings were examined by US and Israeli scientists last summer, comparing the importance of the synagogue to the Jewish community to the significance of the Vatican to the Catholic world. They also suggested that Lithuania should unveil part of the remains and exhibit them to foreign tourists, however, did not support the idea of rebuilding the synagogue.

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