A team of archeologists from around the world discovered the most sacred part of the former Great Synagogue of Vilnius in Lithuania during excavations.
According to the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC), the researchers were able to uncover the synagogue’s ark and bimah, Judische Allgemeine reported.
The synagogue, which was built between 1630 and 1633, was located at the end of Jewish Street in Vilnius. It stood on the grounds of a previous synagogue built in 1572, although the land had been used as a synagogue as early as 1440.
The synagogue was badly damaged during WWII. In the mid-1950s, during the communist era, it was knocked down and replaced with an elementary school.
“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.”
The team’s excavation work has been ongoing for several years. The building’s columns and other remains have also been unearthed.
Before Great Synagogue of Vilnius’ destruction during World War II, during which more than 90 percent of the Jewish community of Lithuania was murdered, the synagogue was a major component of Lithuanian Jewry.