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Vilnius, Lithuania - Seventy Years Later, Relics From Vilna’s Great Synagogue Rediscovered

Published on: July 29, 2015 04:00 PM
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Prof. Harry Jol & Nicole Awad conducting a Ground Penetrating Radar survey at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna in Lithuania. Photographic Credit: Jon Seligman, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities AuthorityProf. Harry Jol & Nicole Awad conducting a Ground Penetrating Radar survey at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna in Lithuania. Photographic Credit: Jon Seligman, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Vilnius, Lithuania - Remnants of history, of a once thriving Jewish city destroyed during the Holocaust, have been discovered as part of a Ground Penetrating survey in Vilnius, Lithuania, according to a press release issued by Israel’s Antiquities Authority.

Evidence of remains from both the Great Synagogue of Vilna and the Shulhof of Vilna were uncovered beneath what is now a school. An excavation to expose what was once Lithuania’s great synagogue is slated to begin next year. The initial discovery of the ruins was made by Dr. Jon Seligman from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Zenonas Baubonis of the Culture Heritage Conservation Authority of Lithuania, and Professor Richard Freund of the University of Hartford.

The Great Synagogue was first built in the 17th Century in Renaissance-Baroque style, and over time, additional community and religious buildings sprung up around it, including 12 synagogues, the renowned Strashun library, several mikva’ot, kosher meat stalls, and other significant institutions which made up the vibrant city of Lithuania, home of the Vilna Gaon.

The splendor of Vilna remained intact until the Germans ransacked, burned, and destroyed the entire community during World War II. What remained was later razed by the Soviets who built a school on top of the site to prevent any attempts to build a monument at the location.

The proposed future excavation will be performed by a team of archaeologists and student volunteers from Israel, Lithuania, and members of the public throughout the Jewish community.


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