Lithuania Church Uses Jewish Headstones as Stairs
Lithuania’s chief rabbi urged the country’s Evangelical Reformed Church to remove Jewish headstones being used as stairs to a Vilnius church.
Rabbi Chaim Burshtein’s call on Facebook last month concerns a 30-foot-long staircase made out of Jewish headstones that leads to the main entrance of the church’s largest building in the Lithuanian capital. The headstones were installed when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union.
“We regret the deplorable state and destruction of the last remnants of the memory of Lithuanian Jewry,” Burshtein told JTA. Lithuania, he added, “has many places built out of Jewish headstones. I think the authorities and the Jewish community need to perform thorough research and correct at least this historic wrong.”
The church on Pylimo Street was featured in an article published in 2013 on the website DefendingHistory.com, run by Dovid Katz, a Yiddish scholar and member of the Jewish Community of Lithuania.
The building, which was confiscated by the government during communist rule, was returned to the church after Lithuania’s independence and, following renovations, reopened in 2007.
“These headstones need to be removed and preserved,” Katz told JTA Tuesday. “It is very painful that, in Lithuania, which likes to
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