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Remembering the Vilna Synagogue

August 29, 2018
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In archaeological excavations that recently took place in Lithuania, archaeologists discovered the stage from which the Torah [Gen.–Deut.] was read to the Jewish community of Vilna for 300 consecutive years. This tradition stopped abruptly during the Holocaust, when the Great Synagogue, then the beating heart of the Lithuanian Jewish community, was looted and burned by the Nazis.

The synagogue stage was discovered under the floors of a school that was built in the 1950s. This impressive stage was [part of] a two-story building built in the 17th-century Renaissance-Baroque style.

Fragments of marble like columns were found in the excavation. In addition, the massive exterior wall of the Great Synagogue was exposed for the first time, as well as large portions of the walls of the bathhouse and the men’s mikveh [place of ritual immersion], which were decorated with colorful tiles.

This is the third excavation season in the Great Synagogue of Vilna and the shulhoff (synagogue courtyard) by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Association, the Goodwill Foundation and the Lithuanian Jewish community.

Source: Excerpt from an article by Edgar Asher, Ashernet

Photo Credit: IAA/Ashernet

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