News2019.11.11 11:00

Vilnius authorities decide to demolish kindergarten built on top of Great Synagogue

Ignas Jačauskas, BNS 2019.11.11 11:00

Vilnius Municipal Council decided last week that the kindergarten built on top of the remains of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius could be demolished.

The kindergarten was built 55 years ago on the site where the Great Synagogue of Vilnius used to be. For the last few years, the building was not used as a kindergarten, but rented out to a dozen tenants involved in cultural, artistic or educational activities.

“The lease agreements will be ended just before the demolition work. The plan is to demolish the kindergarten-primary school next year,” the municipality told BNS.

The local authorities also plan to find a contractor for territorial solutions next year, pledging to focus on a public area that “commemorates the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, its complex and territory”.

Discussions about how to best commemorate the synagogue have been continuing for several years now. Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius has promised that a way to mark the synagogue will be found by 2023 when Vilnius ceelbrates its 700-year jubilee.

The Great Synagogue of Vilnius was one of the most important Jewish religious institutions in Eastern Europe, and was known as an important Jewish spiritual and educational centre. Vilnius – or Vilne in Yiddish – was known as Jerusalem of the North.

The Great Synagogue of Vilnius was built in 1633 on the foundations of an older 16th-century synagogue. The Nazis burnt the synagogue and its remains were razed to the growned after the war. A kindergarten was built on top of it in the 1950s.

Active archeological research has taken place on the site in recent years.

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