The Old Jewish cemetery in Sznipiszok in Vilnius


While walking on the banks of Neris, do not hesitate to climb a hill, whose controversial story encourages us to think about the values we aim to preserve today and pass to future generations. Where the remains of the Sports Palace built in Soviet times still can be seen, there are no visible traces of the old Jewish cemetery. We invite You to look at this place of the cemetery as a place for remembrance and respect for the Vilna Jewish community, which is worth a brief stop and a quiet pause.

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The cemetery of Vilna Jews in Sznipiszok operated in 1592-1831. It was closed due to the lack of new burial space, but at the beginning of the 20th century, this cemetery was still constantly visited. All famous Jews from the local community were buried in this cemetery, Vilna Gaon included. During the interwar period, Polish authorities decided to demolish this cemetery and build a sports stadium in its place, because based on the Polish law of that time, a cemetery which was not in use for more than one hundred years could be demolished. From 1935 until 1940 Vilnius local authorities and Vilnius Jewish community had a continuous discussion regarding this matter because Vilnius Jewish community thought that this is an unquestionable act and they could not let to destroy their cemetery based on Jewish religious law. The Vilna Jewish community was represented by its spiritual leader R. Chaim Ozer Grodzenski.  The Second World War and changing political situation in Vilnius stopped these discussions for a while, but after the war, the new Soviet authorities in the city continued with the previous idea to build a Sports Palace instead of the old Jewish cemetery. And Soviets did not listen to any arguments from a small Jewish community.  In 1948-1955 all tombstones were removed from the old cemetery and some of them were transferred to the new Jewish cemetery on Sudervė road in Vilnius (the mausoleum of Vilna Gaon and his family included). In 1971 the brutalist style Sports Palace was built on the previous territory of the cemetery. In 2008-2010 Sports Palace was closed due to its building`s critical condition and danger to it`s visitors.


In 2020, discussions on what to do with a site of the old Jewish cemetery in Sznipizok (Šnipiškės) are still unsettling, but no solution has been found that satisfies all stakeholders. At present, there is a small memorial plaque in the place of the old Jewish cemetery, in which it is reminded in Lithuanian, English, and Hebrew that this place is the old Jewish cemetery in Vilnius, therefore it is requested to be quiet in the place of eternal rest.


Jewish street, 54.679532, 25.285090

The place of the Great Synagogue and shulhof (jid. shulhoyf) (Žydų g. 3), 54.679901, 25.284511

The mausoleum of Vilna Gaon and his family (Jewish cemetery, Sudervė road, 28), 54.712898, 25.234477

A sculpture of Vilna Gaon (Žydų g. 3), 54.680137, 25.285079

Choral synagogue Taharat ha–Kodesh (Pylimo g. 39), 54.676070, 25.281575

Užupis synagogue (Užupio g. 36), 54.681471, 25.298633

A sculpture of doctor Cemachas Šabadas  (sculpt. Romualdas Kvintas), 54.677248, 25.284342

Pohulanka (now. J. Basanavičius street), 54.680145, 25.276134

Jewish cemetery in Užupis (Olandų g. 22), 54.688106, 25.307748

The printing house of widow Rom and Rom brothers (A. Strazdelio g. 3), 54.675534, 25.292128

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  • Good evening, I am looking for information about the Ashkenazi Jewish people who seem to be descendants of Lithouanian people. Is that correct? If so when did they leave Lithuania and settle in Israel *Haifa?

    thank you very much for your information.

    Shalom and peace for all we pray this year…

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