Vilna Now Has 4,000 Jews; Community Life Reviving; Only Two of 105 Synagogues Remain

This city, which had a pre-war Jewish population of 80,000, today has 4,000 Jewish residents, it was reported today by Rabbi Isaac Asbanas, chairman of the Jewish religious community.

Practically all of the Jews have returned in the past year from the interior of the Soviet Union to which they were evacuated to escape death at the hands of the Germans. Of the Jews who were unable to flee in time, only five or six were found when the Red Army liberated Vilna.

Rabbi Azbanas disclosed that the revived Jewish community has begun to repair, as far as possible, the destruction wrought by the Nazis. Only two of the 105 synagogues in Vilna were spared, and the larger of these required major repairs. These have been made with materials furnished by the Soviet authorities and daily services are being held. Scribes are hard at work restoring Holy Scrolls which were desecrated by the Germans. Railings have been placed around the mass graves of the thousands of Jews who were murdered during the occupation.

In an attempt to reunite the surviving Jews of Vilna with relatives and friends, the community has established an office which investigates the whereabouts of persons concerning whom quaries are received. Relief is being given to those who are destitute. Rabbi Azbanas said that 27,000 paroels had been received from the Joint Distribution Committee, but most of the assistance required by the Jewish community comes from the Soviet Government. The Lithuanian Soviet Government, he stated, recently opened a home for Jewish orphans.

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