Prime Minister: we can and should be proud of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, let‘s give it back to Lithuania and to the world


2011 07 15


Today Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius visited the unearthed fragments of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius in the vicinity of the former Jewish house of worship at Vokiečių Street. With a view to perpetuating the memory of the former Jewish spiritual and cultural center in Vilnius a historical archaeological exploration of this historical site has been launched.

‘It is necessary to give back to Lithuania and to the world all the heritage of the Lithuania’s Jews which was destroyed. We can and must be proud of the Great Synagogue. I invite the archeologists and experts in heritage conservation to make all efforts to ensure that this monument became accessible to Lithuania and to the world as well‘, said Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

Last year, the analysis of the historical cartographic material that has survived till these days was carried out, thus enabling archaeologists to pinpoint specific areas for excavation to make the work as accurate as possible and help to identify key fragments of the former synagogue. The material served as the basis for the archeological exploration program of the Great Synagogue site.

The Great Synagogue of Vilnius was the most important Jewish spiritual and cultural center in Lithuania from the end of the sixteenth century until the forties of the twentieth century. There were times when this house of worship surpassed in its size and splendor all the synagogues built across the Commonwealth of the Two Nations. In spite of natural disasters, fires, enemy attacks, the artwork and precious items donated by most affluent members of the community survived in this Lithuanian Jewish temple for a considerable time.