Vilna Synagogue Torah Ark Rediscovered

Stand for Israel  |  August 27, 2021

Great Synagogue of Vilna
(Photo: Jon Seligman/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Of the many Jewish communities across Europe devastated by the Nazis during the Holocaust, none was as important as Vilna (also known as Vilnius) in Lithuania. Often referred to as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” or the “Jerusalem of the North,” Vilna was home, pre-Holocaust, to one of Europe’s largest and most thriving groups of God’s children.

While there are still Jews in the city – Jews who The Fellowship’s faithful friends still help – the community was decimated, first by the Nazis and then by the Soviets in the postwar era. But now, The Times of Israel’s Michael Bachner reports that a team of archaeologists, aided by the ever-intrepid Israel Antiquities Authority, uncovered the Torah ark of Vilna’s Great Synagogue, a house of worship razed by both the Germans and the Russians:

A joint Israeli and Lithuanian excavation carried out for six years has exposed the Torah ark and bimah (raised prayer platform) of the Great Synagogue of Vilna, which was destroyed by the Nazis during the Holocaust and later razed again by the Soviets, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement on Thursday.

A school had been built on the premises of the 17th century Vilnius synagogue and its surrounding Jewish communal center, known as the Shulhoyf, which had been burned down by the Nazis after operating for some 300 years.

The Soviets in 1956-1957 destroyed what remained.

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