The first meeting took place today of a special commission appointed by the Lithuanian Government for considering issues connected with the culture and history of the Jews of Lithuania, with participants from state institutions, the Lithuanian Jewish Community and representatives of international Jewish organizations.
The first item was discussion of long-term protection and conservation of Jewish cemeteries and mass graves of Holocaust victims. Some mass murder sites haven’t been located yet and these and others lack appropriate commemoration. Likewise many Jewish cemeteries are left untended and unprotected. State institutions proposed an action plan to provide for the legal registration and necessary documentation of the cemeteries and mass grave sites. It was reiterated that under legal requirements now in force the municipalities must conclude this legal registration by the end of 2016.
Historical buildings, first and foremost synagogues, and books, newspapers, archive documents, TOrah scrolls and other ritual items are Jewish heritage objects in Lithuania. These represent the shared Lithuanian and global Jewish cultural heritage. Today’s discussions focused on restoration of synagogues and other Jewish heritage sites with an emphasis on the need to include information about Jewish life and culture in Lithuania. Ongoing cooperation between the YIVO Jewish research institute, Lithuania’s Martynas Mavydas National Library and Lithuania’s Central State Archive was also underlined at the meeting.
Commission members agreed on the need to make greater efforts to teach Lithuania’s children about the history of Lithuanian Jews, including Jewish contributions made in Lithuania and the world and 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.
Jewish representatives pointed out many failures in current Lithuanian legislation on restoration of private property arising because of residence or citizenship requirements which prevent some Holocaust survivors and their heirs from making application for restoration of property or from receiving a succssful outcome in such petitions. The meeting resolved to examine this situation in more detail in order to find the most appropriate solutions to this problem.
Participants 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 are represented at the commission by the Interior, Justice, Foreign Affairs and Culture and Education Ministries and the Association of Lithuanian Municipalities.
Contact: Lithuanian Jewish Community
Address: Pylimo g. 4, Vilnius 01117, Lithuania
Tel.: (8 5) 2613 003, email: firstname.lastname@example.org