Following the request of an Israeli doctor and the Israeli Embassy in Lithuania, the Vilnius University decided to award bachelor’s degrees to hundreds of Jewish students who were expelled from the university during World War II. Many of these students were later murdered by the Nazis.
This project was initiated by the Israeli Prof Moshe Lapidot. After visiting Lithuania to connect with his family roots, Lapidot contacted the Rector of Vilnius University, Prof. Artūras Žukauskas, and Israel’s ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon.
He asked them to recognize the academic studies of his uncle, who had not completed his studies and was murdered by the Nazis. The rector immediately accepted the request and decided to extend the gesture and grant degrees to all the Jewish students and lecturers who had been forced to leave the university due to Nazi decrees.
A few days after Maimon met with Žukauskas, the university administration in Vilna announced that it was launching an initiative to locate those students who had been expelled from the institution because they were Jews.
A few days ago, a ceremony took place at the University of Vilna, where Prof. Lapidot’s cousin was awarded a bachelor’s degree. In addition, three of the university’s former professors were awarded diplomas in memoriam. Lapidot attended the ceremony along with one of the memorialized professors’ granddaughter, Moriah Shahaf.
Maimon described the ceremony as “unprecedented” and added, “We intend to encourage the applications of the relatives and descendants of those Jewish students and lecturers whom the university was not able to locate.”
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)