Live Stream Conference on How to Commemorate Site of Destroyed Vilna Great Synagogue

Information placard in Vilnius at the site of the Great Synagogue.

You will be able to live stream on YouTube the Sept. 4-5 international conference in Vilnius on the decades-long question of how to commemorate the site of the destroyed Great Synagogue of Vilna.

Click here to access the YouTube page.

The Great Synagogue was built in the 1600s in Renaissance-Baroque style. It became the center of Jewish life in Vilnius (Vilna), towering over the Shulhoyf, a teeming complex of alleyways and other Jewish community buildings and institutions including twelve synagogues, ritual baths, the community council, kosher meat stalls, the Strashun library, and other structures and institutions.

Archival photo of the Great Synagogue, Vilnius around 1934

It was ransacked and torched by the Nazis in World War II, and the post-war Soviet regime torn down the ruins and built a school on the site.

The conference, described as a “creative workshop,” brings together international experts who will present the history and architecture of the building, as well as the recent archaeology undertaken at the site that has unearthed the building’s foundations and two mikvehs.

Discussion will focus on what to do now with the site — a topic that has sparked depart for more than a quarter of a century.

Click here to access further details about the conference.

 

PROGRAM:

SEPTEMBER 4

8:30 – 9.30

Participants registration, welcome coffee. Experience the Great Vilna Synagogue 3D reconstruction in virtual reality.

Presented by UAB “Inlusion” and “HTC”.
9.30 – 10:30

Conference opening, welcome speeches:

Moderating – Anna Avidan, “Jerusalem of the North” – Litvak World – managing director
Dr. J. Zoloto, Litvak World US, president
Participants:
Prof. R. Gudauskas, General Director at Martynas Mazvydas National library of Lithuania
A. J. Zabulis, ‘‘Jerusalem of the North“, Chair of the board
H. E. Mr. V. Adamkus, President of Lithuania
Prof. V. Landsbergis, former Head of State of Lithuania
R. Singer, CEO and Vice President of the World Jewish Congress
L. Ruokytė-Jonsson, Minister of culture of Lithuania
A. Ben Ari, Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel
E. Zingeris, Head of Group for Inter-Parliamentary Relations with the State of Israel
F. Kukliansky, Chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish community
S. Gurevicius, Chairman of the Vilnius Jewsih community
10:30 – 10:40

Reviving the Jewish heritage in Vilnius

Vilnius city Mayor Mr. Remigijus Šimašius

Session I

Moderating – Dr. S. Kravtsov, Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
10:40 – 11:10

The Great Synagogue in Vilnius: Between the City and Its Jewish Community

Dr. Vladimir Levin, Acting Director The Center for Jewish Art Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
11:10 – 11:30

Ethnic heritage revival significance and perspectives in Vilnius

G. Rutkauskas, Director of the Old town renewal agency, Vilnius, international ICOMOS expert, Lithuania
11:30 – 11:50

TBC

 
11:50 – 12:10

From Marijampole to the troubled world today: personal reflections

Prof. Avishay Braverman, former World Bank Senior economist, former President of Ben Gurion University, former Member of Knesset and Cabinet minister, Israel
12:10 – 12:30

Lithuanian Jewish heritage from an US born Litvak’s perspective

Jerrold A. Zoloto, PhD., Litvak World US president, USA
12:30 – 13:30
Lunch

Session II

Moderating – Dr. L. Lempertiene, Head of the Judaica Research Centre at the Martynas Mazvydas National Library of Lithuania
13:30 – 13:50

The Excavation and Presentation of the Remains of the Great Synagogue and Shulhoyf of Vilna

Dr. J. Seligman, archaeologist, implementing excavations on the site of the Great synagogue, Director of the Excavations, Survey and Research Department, Antiquities Authority, Israel
13:50 – 14:10

The Great Synagogue of Vilnius: Architecture, Meaning and Memory.

Dr. S. Kravtsov, Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
14:10 – 14:30

National and communal commemoration – The Israeli case

Prof. Hanna Jablonka, Chief Historian of the museum of The Ghetto Fighters House (Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot), Israel
14:30 – 14:50

The issue of the lost synagogue’s “museification”: eventual approaches

Dr. B. Khaimovich, Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
14:50 – 15:20
Coffee break
15:20 – 16:20

What message does the Great Vilna synagogue convey to the world? Panel discussion.

Moderating – G. Rutkaukas, Director of the Old town renewal agency, Vilnius, international ICOMOS expert, Lithuania
Dr. Rimvydas Laužikas, Prof. M. Zalkin, Dr. V.Levin, Dr. B. Khaimovich, Dr. J. Verbickienė, Prof. S.Leiman
16:20 – 16:40

Preservation and reviving of the Jewish cultural heritage

A. Jomantas, Department of Cultural Heritage Under the Ministry of Culture, Lithuania
16:40 – 17:00

The Great Synagogue as a Metaphor – Modern Israel and its Litvak Code

Edly Dollar, Chairman of Yad Chaim Weizmann, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Founding Partner of Copia VC Fund, Israel
17:00 – 17:20

Lithuania and Litvak Heritage Through The Eyes Of a South African/Israeli Litvak Descendant

Adv. Len Judes, Chairman Israel-Lithuania Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Israel-Lithuania Technology Hub
18:00
Klezmer Music Concert ,,History through the Jewish music“, III floor atrium, near stained glass. Organiser: Martynas Mazvydas National library of Lithuania

 

SEPTEMBER 5

8:30 – 9:00
Welcome coffee

Session I

Moderating – Dr. J. Seligman, archaeologist, implementing excavations on the site of the Great synagogue, Director of the Excavations, Survey and Research Department, Antiquities Authority, Israel
9:00 – 9:30

The Stone Shall be a Witness: Strategies for the Preservation and Presentation of Destroyed Structures

Prof. Samuel D. Gruber, Jewish Studies Program, Syracuse University; Visiting Associate Prof. in Jewish Studies, Cornell University, USA
9:30 – 10:00
Prof. Amnon Bar Or , “Amnon Bar Or Architects Ltd.“, Israel
10:00 – 10:20
Dr.Thomas Otten, Director MiQua. LVR-Jewish Museum in the Archaeological Quarter Cologne, Germany
10:20 – 10:40
Dr. Chana Schütz, The New Synagogue Berlin – Centrum Judaicum, Germany
10:40 – 10:50
V. Godik, Chair of the Board, Ukrainian Union of Jewish Students (UUJS), Presidium member Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine (Vaad), Ukraine
10:50 – 11:10
Rimas Grigas, Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, Lithuania
11:10 – 11:30
Dr. Aiste Niunkaite – Raciuniene, The Vilna Gaon Jewish state museum, Lithuania
12:00 – 13:00
Lunch
Session II
13:00 – 13:30

The Great Synagogue in the independent Lithuania: searching for the commemoration concept

E. Zingeris, Head of Group for Inter-Parliamentary Relations with the State of Israel, Lithuania
Tz. Zak, Architect, Israel
A. Gucas, Specialist of urbanism, architect, Lithuania

ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION

Moderating – A. Pranckevicius, Head of the European Commission Representation in Vilnius
13:30 – 14:30

Meaningful Commemoration: Concepts, Methods, Message

Participants:
Prof. V. Landsbergis, Former Head of State of Lithuania
Prof. A. Braverman, Former World Bank Senior economist,former President of Ben Gurion
Ž. Pavilionis, LR member of Parliament, former Lithuania’s ambassador in the USA
G. Rutkaukas, Director of the Old town renewal agency, Vilnius, international ICOMOS expert, Lithuania
Dr. T. Grunskis, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Architectal Department
S. Levinas, Chairman of Vilnius Jewish Religious Community
S. Gurevicius, Chairman of Vilnius Jewish community
A. Ben Ari, Chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel
A. Baskauskaite, Old Town of Vilnius community chairwoman
14:30 – 15:00

Conference Summary

Dr. A. Gelunas, Member of Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas), former Minister of culture
 

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