Shalom Life | July 31, 2015

Israeli Archaeologists Discover Remnants of Great Historical Synagogue

Using new technology, Israeli archaeologists have unearthed what may be the Great Synagogue of Vilna

By: B. Shane Morganstein

Published: July 29th, 2015 in News » World

Israeli Archaeologists Discover Remnants of Great Historical Synagogue

Photo: Great Synagogue of Vilna, built in 1572. Taken during WWI


Israeli archaeologists announced Wednesday that they may have discovered remnants of the Great Synagogue of Vilna. One of the most treasured landmarks of European Jewish history, the synagogue was reportedly destroyed by the Nazis during their occupation of Lithuania during WWII.

A particularly old and historically significant building, the synagogue was built in the 1600’s and served as a central hotspot for Lithuanian Jewry until it was severely damaged by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

The archaeological discovery was made when scientists were searching in an area near a school in Vilnius. Using a combination of underground detection radars and other equipment, the scientists found what they currently believe to be pieces of the synagogue.

The important find, led by Dr. Yochanan Zeligman and Dr. Richard Freund, is slated to evolve into a full-on excavation, likely to begin in 2016.

“We are very excited about this discovery, as this synagogue stands as a grand memorial to the Jewish community of Vilna,” said the team of researchers. The team hopes that the find will help rebuild some solidarity within the Lithuanian Jewish community, and that a full excavation of the site might provide interesting insight into the thriving Jewish community of Vilna after the First World War.

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