Archaeologists unearth tiny Torah pointer in ruins of Lithuanian synagogue
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Archaeologists unearth tiny Torah pointer in ruins of Lithuanian synagogue

The Great Synagogue of Vilna had been destroyed by the Nazis and bulldozed by the Soviets

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Archaeologists sifting through soil in the ruins of a Lithuanian synagogue destroyed by the Nazis have found a tiny pointer used in Torah scroll readings.

The silver Yad was found by a team led by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is conducting an excavation and restoration project at the Great Synagogue of Vilna.

It was found in front of the remains of the Torah ark that was uncovered during this year’s excavation season.

“The recent discovery of magnificent parts of the Great Synagogue shows the potential for further excavation of the site in anticipation of the exciting possibility of displaying the remains of the future,” said Eli Eskozido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The complex formed the heart of Jewish life in Vilnius, containing 12 synagogues, ritual baths and a library, among other facilities.

It was pillaged and destroyed in the Nazi occupation of Vilnius during the Second World War, when the city was part of Poland.

But it was rebuilt after the city became part of Lithuania after the war. In the mid-1950s, Soviet authorities bulldozed the remains and built a school on the site.

An excavation and restoration project was launched by the Lithuanian government in 2011.

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