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April 23, 2020 4:28 pm

Top Officials in Lithuania and Israel Pay Tribute to Vilna Gaon on 300th Anniversary of Birth

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

The Vilna Gaon’s tomb, in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo: Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.

Thursday was the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, and top officials in both Lithuania and Israel marked the occasion with public gestures of remembrance of the late Eastern European Jewish leader.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linus Linkevicius tweeted, “300 years since the birth of Vilna Gaon. Today, by his grave in Vilnius, I am paying the highest tribute to Vilna Gaon, an eternal symbol of Lithuanian Jewish culture and history. The magnitude of Vilna Gaon’s contribution to the spiritual Jewish life is immensely important.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz replied to Linkevicius, “300 years ago today, one of Judaism’s greatest religious thinkers, the Vilna Gaon was born in Vilnius. His legacy & the rich history of Lithuania’s Jewish community lives on. Thank you to FM @LinkeviciusL for this meaningful tribute at the Vilna Gaon’s grave this morning.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweeted, “This year, we mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Vilna Gaon. As a Rivlin, followers of the Gaon who came to #Israel in accordance with his wishes, I spoke today with President @GitanasNauseda of #Lithuania. I hope to find a way to honor his memory and legacy together.”

The American Jewish Committee’s Central European office tweeted, “300 years ago the Gaon of Vilna was born. He is one of the most influential Jewish thinkers in Europe to this day.

“Let’s remember his everlasting legacy, that continues to shine in the beautiful traditions of Lithuanian & East European Jewry,” it added. “2020 is the Year of Vilna Gaon.”

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