The once-magnificent Great Synagogue of Vilna (Vilnius) was partially destroyed by the Germans during World War II; the Soviet demolished the rest of it in 1957. Now a group of archaeologists is trying to recover what remains. Toby Tabachnick writes:
Now mostly Catholic, Vilnius was once called the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” and was home to about 60,000 Jews, constituting about 30 percent of the city’s total population. The Nazis invaded Vilnius on June 24, 1941, and transported its Jews to the nearby forest of Ponary, where they were all murdered by firing squad. . . .
The team [of archaeologists] is creating plans of sub-surface locations of the remains of the Great Synagogue. . . . While housing and a school now sit on the site, some of the synagogue’s original structure remains below the surface. . . .
After as much information as possible can be obtained about the Great Synagogue, [the archaeologists’] goal is to have local authorities, including its current small Jewish community, erect either a memorial or a museum. It is unlikely the Great Synagogue will be rebuilt for use as a synagogue.