Government and Jewish Reps Agree How to Safeguard Cemeteries

Government and Jewish Reps Agree How to Safeguard Cemeteries

BNS and Lietuvos rytras

Lithuanian Government representatives agreed with Lithuanian and international Jewish organizations Thursday to work to conserve Jewish architectural heritage and Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania, and to provide more information to the public on Jewish history.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community reports the meeting focused on plans to restore synagogues and other Jewish heritage sites.

The first meeting of a commission set up to address Jewish culture and history issues agreed to draft an action plan on registering and conserving Jewish cemeteries and maintaining Jewish cultural heritage sites and adapting them for use by the public, Lina Saulėnaitė, an advisor from the Government Chancellery’s Department of Foreign and European Union Affairs, told BNS.

“There was also agreement to provide greater access to the public to archival documents through digitization—that’s a project of the YIVO Jewish Research Institute. Because registered and unregistered cemeteries and mass murder sites were presented, there was discussion on bringing all of them into a registry,” she said.

The Lithuanian government official said Jewish and all cemeteries located in Lithuania should be registered by 2017. The commission is planning to ask the Association of Lithuanian Municipalities for help in this area.

So far there has only been agreement on the drafting of plans, but if problems arise the commission plans to make specific proposals to the Government.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community reported the meeting focused on plans to restore synagogues and other Jewish heritage sites, to include information on Jewish life and culture in Lithuania. Community representatives noted the Lithuanian Martynas Mažvydas National Library and the Lithuanian Central State Archives were working together with the YIVO to digitize archive documents.

“Commission members agreed it was necessary to make greater efforts in teaching the children of Lithuania about the history of the Jews of Lithuania, including contributions Jews have made in Lithuania and the world, and about the Holocaust in Lithuania. This entails a thorough examination of current curricula and textbooks as well as consideration of other sorts of activities including student tours at museums and historical sites,” the Lithuanian Jewish Community said in a press release.

Participants at the commission meeting included representatives from the American Jewish Committee, the Committee of Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and the World Jewish Restitution Organization.

Lithuanian institutions were represented at the commission by the Interior, Justice, Foreign Affairs and Culture and Education  Ministries and the Association of Lithuanian Municipalities.

The commission, directed by Government chancellor Alminas Mačiulis, has been charged with examining issues connected with the legacy of the culture and history of the Jews of Lithuania, conservation of Jewish cemeteries and mass murder sites in Lithuania and other issues, and with making recommendations to the Government for implementing tasks associated with these tasks and duties.

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