Lithuania’s Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius joined members of the Vilnius/Vilna Jewish community Friday at the site of the Aron Kodesh, or Holy Ark of The Great Synagogue of Vilnius, which was recently uncovered in the excavations of this historically significant synagogue, according to Chabad.com. Also uncovered was a part of the original floor, and the top of one of the four pillars surrounding the synagogue's pulpit.
The synagogue dates back to the end of the 16th century. It was partly destroyed by the Germans during WWII, and fully demolished by the Soviet authorities in 1955-1957. Part of the synagogue sits under buildings constructed by the communists--including a large building that is now a kindergarten--and will be difficult to get to. The excavations are part of a broad effort sponsored by the government to restore the old Jewish quarter of Vilnius, and includes digs to uncover some of the eight smaller synagogues in the area.