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Archaeologists find holiest part of Vilnius synagogue razed by Nazis, Soviets
 

Archaeologists find holiest part of Vilnius synagogue razed by Nazis, Soviets

Mayor of Lithuanian capital says school built over Great Synagogue of Vilna to be demolished, turned into memorial as 'bimah' is discovered at site

Members of an international team of archaeologists work to unearth parts of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius on July 25, 2018. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)
Members of an international team of archaeologists work to unearth parts of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius on July 25, 2018. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AFP) — For decades, little did the principal of a kindergarten in Lithuania’s capital realize that his office stood on top of a sacred part of Vilnius’ 17th century Jewish temple, once famous across Europe.

An international team of archaeologists on Thursday announced the discovery of the most revered part of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, Lithuania’s major Jewish shrine before it was destroyed by Nazi and Soviet regimes.

“We’ve found the bimah, the central prayer platform which was in Tuscan Baroque style. It was one of the central features of the synagogue,” Jon Seligman from Israel’s Antiquities Authority told AFP.

“It is really a very exciting development. When we talk about the presentation of the site to the public in the future, this will be one of the central features of the display,” he added. 

The green and brown, brick and mortar bimah — a raised platform from which the Jewish holy book, the Torah, is read — was unearthed just beneath the principal’s office of a former school built in the 1950s by the Soviet regime.

Jon Seligman, director of the Excavations, Surveys and Research Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority, stands at the site where an international team of archaeologists work to unearth parts of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 25, 2018. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)

The synagogue, dating from the 1630s, was the most important shrine for Lithuania’s once vibrant Jewish community.

The city attracted Yiddish-speaking writers and scholars, earning it the title of “Jerusalem of the North.”

Before the war, Jews accounted for around one-third of the city’s then 60,000 residents, but most of them perished under Nazi Germany’s 1941-1944 occupation.

The Nazis burned down the shrine and the remains were later demolished by the Soviet regime that built a kindergarten, later turned into the primary school, on the property.

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VILNIUS FITS YOUR FEET

Vilnius is a great place for pleasant strolls. It is green, full of cultural diversity and cozily compact. So compact, that in just a few dozen steps from the gallery, you find yourself in a park, followed by a baroque church, and off to the castle after a cup at the local cafe. Thus, in a short time you get to not just see, but also hear, touch, taste and tune into the soul of the city.

Is it just us, or are you already planning a weekend trip?

Get to know Vilnius from within.

Fly & Lease of campers in the Baltic.

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Take a tour and discover Baltics by yourself!

You will be able to travel comfortably throughout Baltic Sates in our campers, as passengers really may feel themselves like home and take any necessary stuff with them, even their most loved cup for coffee.
A virtue of motor homes is the possibility to be in the cabin in all companionship while going from place to place.
Moreover, you will be free as you will be independent from hotels and every evening you will be able to spend in any place you wish!

Prepaid individual transfer :

no trouble with money exchange upon arrival,
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The driver will wait for you at arrival hall with your name on the card, will help you with luggage and will safely transfer you to agreed place.
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