The grave and tombstone of the Gaon Reb Yisroel Salanter,
founder of the Mussar movement in yeshivas, was
totally destroyed by vandals. Daubings of "Death to the Jews"
and swastikas were painted around the area. A wall
commemorating the holocaust was also destroyed and the gate
surrounding the cemetery was pulled down.
The municipality of Kaliningrad returned the cemetery to the
Jewish community more than two years ago. It took almost two
years to locate the exact site of Reb Yisroel Salanter's
grave, due to the terrible condition of the entire area.
Only four months ago a group of 250 rabbis from all over the
world dedicated the newly-renovated site, which had been
cleared and renovated at the initiative of the descendants of
Reb Yisrael. It was envisaged that visitors from all over the
world would be able to visit the cemetery to pay homage to
this great Torah leader of the mussar movement.
The Secretary General of the Conference of European Rabbis
(CER), Cllr Aba Dunner, in a letter to Mayor Savenko of
Kaliningrad and to the Russian Ambassador in London Mr. G.
Karasin, expressed the outrage of the CER and the entire
Jewish community at this lowly, antisemitic act. Cllr Dunner
demanded that action be taken to apprehend the perpetrators
and that steps be taken to protect the area and other Jewish
installations in the future.
The letter read, in part, "As the Pan European organisation
responsible for communities throughout the region we write to
you to express our serious concern at the rise of anti-
Semitic incidents that have recently occurred in Russia.
"The latest of these is the destruction of the newly erected
tombstone on the grave of the revered and saintly Rabbi Y
Salanter in Kaliningrad. Only a few months ago a delegation
of some two hundred Rabbis travelled to Kaliningrad in order
to consecrate this site with the participation of many local
"Other incidents include the defacing with anti-Semitic
daubing of the synagogue in Kostroma and on the new community
centre in Tomsk. There are regular acts of violence against
members of the Jewish community throughout Russia.
"We did meet in London some two years ago with your Minister
of Human Rights in order to discuss this problem and were
assured that steps were being taken to stop these incidents
occurring. We feel however that not enough is being done by
the authorities to both discourage and apprehend those that
carry out these acts.
"We ask you therefore to please convey to your government in
the strongest terms our deep concern and protest. We request
detailed assurances from your government as to what steps it
intends to take in order to ensure that these incidents will
cease to occur in the future."
It is not clear if the incidents are connected with the
intensifying of Moslem antisemitism or have their source
elsewhere. Whatever the source, the recent rise is cause for