April 27, 2017 in Vilnius the Board meeting of the public entity „The Foundation for Disposal of Good Will Compensation for the Immovable Property of Jewish Religious Communities“ (hereinafter – GWF) took place.
The emergence of the GWF it is an important event not only for the Lithuanian Jews, but also for the state of Lithuania as a first successful try to compensate the losses experienced during the Holocaust by the Jewish citizens of Lithuania. In accordance with the Law on Good Will Compensation, the compensation constitute of around 37 million euro and is to be transferred from the Lithuanian state budget until 2023. The compensation is to be used for funding projects which deal with religious, cultural, health care, sports, educational and scientific goals pursued by Lithuanian Jews in Lithuania. Each year the government of Lithuanian republic allocates 3,6 million euros to the purposes indicated in the GWF Law. The GWF has expanded since it‘s establishment and became an organization, which seeks, that the funds allocated to Lithuanian Jews would be used meaningfully and appropriately.
During the Board meeting on 27th of April, 2017 the annual compensation for the year 2017 was distributed in accordance with the project applications received. The allocation of GWF funds for projects is implemented in accordance with established criteria. In addition to that, GWF Board discussed the issues of the investment of the endowment money kept for the future project funding, purchasing the buildings, used to sustain Jewish communities‘ activities, the preservation of the remains of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, plans to establish the Lithuanian Jewish History Museum “next to” the planned Congress Centre (former Sports palace), commemoration and ensuring of the proper respect of the killing site in Ponar.
„The agreement was reached that the Jewish cemetery is not a proper place for a museum“ – said Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee representative and the Co-Chair of the Board of the GWF after the meeting. „We think, in this place the history of the cemetery and the people buried there should be represented“ – he added. Andrew Baker expects that the territory of the cemetery will be preserved as a memorial place or a park.
Faina Kukliansky, a second Co-Chair of the Board of GWF, expressed the opinion, that in regard to this issue „the opinion is united“. „This place, in our view, is not suitable for the Lithuanian Jewish History Museum“ – Ms Kukliansky claimed.
Sports palace was built under the Soviets on top of the demolished old Šnipiškės cemetery used until 18th century. In the cemetery a lot of prominent and important people of Jewish community were buried.
In pictures: The moments of the GWF Board meeting in Vilnius: