Viewing cable 05VILNIUS733
Title: NO DESECRATION OF GRAVES SEEN BY LOCAL JEWISH

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS7332005-07-13 14:07:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000733 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB AND EUR/OHI 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PREL LH
SUBJECT: NO DESECRATION OF GRAVES SEEN BY LOCAL JEWISH 
LEADERS 
 
 
¶1.  Summary: We met with Rabbi Chizkiva Kalmanowitz, an 
American citizen resident in Israel, on June 29 to discuss 
his concerns about construction work on the site of a known 
Jewish cemetery in central Vilnius.  Rabbi Kalmanowitz was in 
Lithuania for 18 hours as part of a survey trip to Jewish 
heritage sites in Eastern Europe.  He alleges that the 
construction is disturbing graves on the site.  The two 
principal leaders of the Lithuanian Jewish community, who 
rarely agree on anything, both told us they do not share 
Kalmanowitz's concerns. End Summary. 
 
¶2.  Rabbi Kalmanowitz painted a grim picture of a ravaged 
gravesite in his meeting with us.  We visited the site and 
did not see anything like the upturned graves with numerous 
remains that the Rabbi indicated he had seen.  We received 
from the Department a photo that shows what could be possible 
remains, but we were unable to determine where on the 
construction site it was taken. 
 
¶3.  We contacted Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, an American 
citizen who is the local Chabad rabbi, on June 30 to discuss 
the situation.  He told us that he did not share Rabbi 
Kalmanowitz's concerns about the site.  Krinsky said that 
during the 2001-2003 construction of a bridge that is 
approximately 30 meters from the current construction site, 
Vilnius municipal authorities were very conscientious in 
ensuring that the local Jewish community was able to relocate 
any disturbed remains.  Krinsky also commented that the 
owners of the new building would have had to hire 
archeologists and other specialists to verify what would need 
to be done on the site before receiving their construction 
permit.  He told us that Chabad had previously viewed the 
site and had not found any problems, and that they will 
contact us if they discover anything amiss. 
 
¶4.  Lina Gubreviciute of the MFA's Americas Division told us 
July 13 that the construction firm did indeed commission an 
archeological survey.  Gubreviciute said that the findings, 
which have not yet been circulated, show that there is no 
longer a major burial site at this location.  (Note: Most 
interested parties believe that this cemetery was effectively 
destroyed by the Soviets, as they removed the gravestones and 
built several buildings, including a large aquatic center, on 
the land. End Note) 
 
¶5.  Simonas Alperavicius, the president of the Lithuanian 
Jewish Community, offered us on July 13 largely the same view 
as Rabbi Krinsky, his frequent antagonist.  Alperavicius said 
the city government's actions during the prior construction 
on the site had been commendable.  He said that he was aware 
of the current construction, and was not concerned that it 
may be disturbing graves.  Alperavicius also commented that 
he thought the Jewish community had most likely removed all 
remains from the current site during the bridge construction 
two years ago. 
 
¶6.  Comment: Issues relating to Jewish heritage in Lithuania 
are a top priority for this Mission.  We therefore do not 
take Rabbi Kalmanowitz's charges lightly.  We are reassured, 
however, by the opinions of the two leading figures in the 
Vilnius Jewish community about the construction project, and 
note that the GOL's track record on Jewish cemetery issues is 
positive.   We will continue to monitor this situation 
closely, working with the GOL and local Jewish community, and 
will report any additional information we receive. 
Kelly