Archaeologists find main part of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius

An international team of archaeologists has found the most important part of the former Great Synagogue of Vilnius in Lithuania.

During excavations, the Torah ark and bimah of the 17th century house of worship have been exposed, according to the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC).

“We were finally able to see the central part of the synagogue, which was demolished more than 60 years ago, its most important and sacred places,” LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky told BNS Agency in Vilnius. “Many rabbis and leaders of the Jews stood on the exposed ground.”

Before World War II and the Nazi occupation, 40 percent of the Lithuanian capital’s residents were Jews. The city was also considered the “Jerusalem of the North” and the Great Synagogue of Vilnius the largest and most important building in Lithuanian Jewry.

Destroyed during the war, its ruins had to make way for the construction of an elementary school during the Soviet era. Research work and excavations have been taking place underneath it for several years. Previously, the basic columns and other remains of the synagogue were found.

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