Statement Regarding False Information in the Media on Protection of Jewish Cemeteries and Mass Murder Sites

The Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) is disappointed to report that the text “On the Old Jewish Cemetery Located at Žalgirio street no. 3 in Šiauliai” containing false information was posted on social media and sent to official representatives of the Lithuanian state on August 29, 2018. The text was signed by representatives of the Šiauliai District Jewish Community, the Panevėžys Jewish Support Association, the Kaunas Jewish Religious Community, the Klaipėda Jewish Community, the Ukmergė Regional Jewish Community, the Klaipėda Jewish-Judaic Religious Community and the Vilnius Jewish Community.

The text, among other things, claims a court has found the LJC leadership to be illegitimate. The LJC notes there is no court decision which found the LJC leadership was elected illegitimately. The intentional propagation of this text with false information harms the LJC’s reputation, insults the Jewish people and possibly violates article 154 of the criminal code of Lithuania, and the LJC reserves the right to defend its interests in the manner prescribed by law.

The text also takes a position on the protection of Jewish heritage. In reply, the LJC notes that over many years of consistent cooperation with the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (hereinafter Committee) official positions and assessments have been provided on issues surround the protection and maintenance of Jewish cemeteries and mass murder sites. The cooperation which has come about is founded on the high competence, expertise and experience of the Committee and is beneficial in the attempt to insure the protection of Jewish heritage and to insure that all conservation work would meet the requirements of Jewish law. The state and municipal institutions engaged in protection of Jewish heritage sites also need the expertise and judgment which the Committee provides.

It is noteworthy that in consulting with the Committee, work at all sites assessed so far has included not just state and municipal institutions but also regional Jewish communities and local aldermanships. In order to insure quality and consistency in the field of conservation of Jewish sites, the LJC plans to continue in this tried and true manner and to listen to the judgment of the Committee.

Protection, renovation and upkeep of cemeteries, mass murder sites and other heritage sites is difficult work which requires trans-institutional cooperation. The harm caused by individual initiatives can overshadow results achieved through long years of systematic work, and setting institutions against one another gives rise to unnecessary errors and lays the groundwork for turning Jewish heritage protection and maintenance issues into a tool for manipulation.

The LJC notes we have no information about the European Rabbis Conference and its representatives mentioned in the text as officially operating (sanctioned) in Lithuania, and, likewise, the LJC is not responsible for the results of activities by any such organization. Currently the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe is the only partner recognized by the LJC and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania in the field of Jewish heritage site protection.