Jewish Community of Lithuania closes Vilnius Synagogue, headquarters due to threats

The Jewish Community of Lithuania has said on Tuesday it is closing Vilnius Synagogue and its headquarters for an indeterminate period due to threats and is also asking for additional protection of Suderve Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius against acts of vandalism, informed LETA/BNS.

“The Lithuanian Jewish Community has received threatening telephone calls and letters in recent days. In this atmosphere of rising tension and incitement to more tension, neither the LJC nor the synagogue in Vilnius have the means to insure the safety of visitors, including Holocaust survivors and their families,” the community said in a statement.

It also expresses resentment over “the continual, escalating publicly-expressed desire by one political party for recognizing perpetrators of the mass murder of the Jews of Lithuania as national heroes and the demand these people be honored with commemorative plaques and by other means”.

“Anti-Semitic comments and inscriptions which are posted to social media pages of political parties and their leaders are being tolerated and go unpunished (even calling the Christian Mary “Jew-girl”), which makes us wonder even more whether we are safe or not,” the statement reads. “We would like to hear the opinion of the leaders of Lithuania and to hear a firm position on whether public propaganda in favor of honoring Holocaust perpetrators will continue to be tolerated in Lithuania.”

The Jewish Community of Lithuania also expressed its resentment over a rally near the monument to King Mindaugas in central Vilnius, being organized by nationalists on Wednesday, in response to the decision by the Vilnius authorities to remove the controversial memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika, also known as Generolas Vetra (General Storm), and also rename the street named after Kazys Skirpa, another controversial figure.

The controversial memorial plaque to Noreika was removed on Jul 27 at the initiative of the Vilnius mayor who said it was done after taking into account the fact that Noreika approved the Nazi administration’s decisions to establish a Jewish ghetto and seize their property.

And on Jul 24, Vilnius City Council decided to rename a small street in central Vilnius named after Skirpa, a controversial 20th century Lithuanian diplomat and military officer, due to his declared anti-Semitic views.

Both decisions have been welcomed by the Jewish Community of Lithuania.

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