The desecration, vandalism and redevelopment of Jewish cemeteries in Europe has prompted Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to press local governments abroad to preserve those sites.
In a letter Tuesday to Clinton, Gillibrand said she was acting on behalf of constituents who have expressed concern “about the threats faced by historic cemeteries, such as those in Lithuania, Poland and Malta.”
“The cemeteries represent a segment of America’s heritage,” she wrote. “Many families in New York and elsewhere in the United States have enduring personal ties to those buried in the cemeteries.”
Gillibrand cited plans to repair or expand a sports complex built on top of the Snipiske Cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania, which she said would disturb the surrounding area where remains still exist.
In Krakow, Poland, a New York tourist in April discovered digging at the side of a synagogue that had unearthed human remains.
In Rabat, Malta, at least two of five Jewish catacombs have been emptied since 2009 and the human remains taken and used for research. The site is approximately 2000 years old and one of the few ancient Jewish burial grounds still in existence.