Drawing of the Great Synagogue of Vilna. (J.Kamarauska/Wikipedia) (J.Kamarauska/Wikipedia)
Great Synagogue of Vilna

radar check Vilna symagogue

Prof. Harry Jol & Nicole Awad conducting a Ground Penetrating Radar survey at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna. (Jon Seligman/IAA)

A team of archaeologists is planning to uncover the recently discovered remains of the Great Synagogue of Vilna as a memorial to the great Jewish community of Lithuania.

Remains of the Great Synagogue of Vilna were recently discovered, 70 years after it was destroyed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Tuesday.

The remains, identified in a Ground Penetrating Radar survey in June and partially covered by a school, will be uncovered in an archaeological excavation and displayed as part of a memorial for the magnificent Jewish community of Vilna next year.

A joint team, led by Dr. Jon Seligman of the IAA, Zenonas Baubonis of the Culture Heritage Conservation Authority of Lithuania and Prof. Richard Freund of the University of Hartford, was successful in mapping out the structure’s outline.

vilna scan

The Ground Penetrating Radar scan. (IAA)

The magnificent Great Synagogue of Vilna (Vilnius) in Lithuania was the oldest and most significant symbol of Lithuanian Jewry. Like most of the Jewish cultural centers in Lithuania, the Great Synagogue was destroyed during the Holocaust.

Built in the 17th century in Renaissance-Baroque style, the Great Synagogue was surrounded over time by other community buildings, including 12 synagogues, the community council, kosher meat stalls, the famous Strashun library, a complex of ritual baths and other communal institutions that formed a great center of Torah study, the beating heart of Lithuanian Jewry.

After centuries of existence, with the destruction of the entire Jewish community of Vilna, this important shrine was ransacked and burnt by the Germans during World War II. The remains were later demolished by the Soviet authorities, and a modern school was constructed on the site.