The director of the Lithuanian Lustration Commission for determining collaboration with the secret services of the Soviet occupational government in Lithuania has determined the late Saulius Sondeckis did not collaborate with the KGB or other Soviet “power” agencies. Who bears responsibility for accusing this Righteous Gentile of collaborating with the Soviets?
The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius will host a concert to celebrate 70 years of Israeli statehood beginning at 2:00 P.M. on Sunday, May 27, 2018. Notable Lithuanian musicians will perform Jewish songs and melodies. The event is free and open to the public.
The Sunday lecture series continues at 1:00 P.M. on Sunday, May 27, with a lecture by Roza Bielauskienė on the slavery of the Jews in Egypt. Lecture in Lithuanian.
Our best wishes go out to Holocaust survivor, resident of Vilnius, Jewish intellectual, doctor habil. of physics, author of numerous articles, great Yiddish speaker and true Jewish and Litvak patriot Pinchos Fridberg!
We wish you the best health, patience, much happiness, more smiles and a care-free life filled with gentleness and happiness. Your sense of humor is endless and ironic, and everyone has greatly enjoyed your Motke Chabad stories published in Obzor.
Mazl tov! May you live to 120!
For the eleventh time now in Lithuania the March of the Living walked the route from the Ponar train station to the Ponar Memorial Complex to commemorate the Jews murdered there. Among the marchers were Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas, Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman and Švenčionys Jewish Community chairman Moshe Šapiro. Other participants included Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius, Lithuanian ambassador to Israel Edminas Bagdonas and Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon, as well as members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, students from the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium, members of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel and Holocaust survivors Fania Brancovskaja and Sameul Bak.
The Lithuanian foreign minister, the Israel ambassador, representatives of the Vilnius mayor’s office, the LJC and former ghetto and concentration camp prisoners among others laid wreaths at a monument in the center of the Ponar Memorial Complex to the accompaniment of violin music.
Fania Brancovskaja spoke: “Ponar was a murder machine where from 1941 to 1943 before Vilnius was liberated from Nazi occupation murder was carried out continuously. Seventy-thousand Jews were murdered in Ponar just because they were Jews, all that remains of them is ashes mixed with sand. Not many of us are left, but we are here. I am one of those who went through the entire ghetto and please, do not forget them. As long as we live, we ask you to pass on the information to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren so that they do not forget the victims who died.”
A chess tournament to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel will be held at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, May 27, at the Lithuanian Jewish Community. For more information and to register, write firstname.lastname@example.org or call 8 655 43 556.
The Vilnius dance troupe Low Air will give a performance called Game Over at the Tmuna Theater, Shontzino 8, Tel Aviv, Israel, at 8:00 P.M. on May 24.
Inspired by the author Julio Cortázar, Low Air presents an innovative live dance installation which connects both visual and performing arts.
The performance Game Over revolves around the gaming perspective, inviting audience to witness the collision of reality and dreams. Spectators imagine themselves in a particular situation and considers their relationship with others and themselves. Subtle feelings interfere with fiction and magic, while becoming an inevitable element of movement and sight.
Cortázar writes magical realism which has inspired artists for some time now. The writer’s stories are particularly vivid and have become a map for motion and choreography.
More information here.
Photo: Milda Rūkaitė
The Beit Vilna association of Litvak survivors from Vilnius hosted a presentation of the new Lithuanian translation of Yitzhak Rudashevski’s Vilnius ghetto diary in Tel Aviv May 16. Rudashevski’s two surviving cousins Sora Voloshin and Golda Rudashevsky attended the event. Voloshin escaped while her family and Ytizhak and his parents was being sent to Ponar to be executed. She later found the diary written in school notebooks in the ruins of a location where the Rudashevski family hid.
The Lithuanian translation was the initiative of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Lithuanian ambassador to Israel Edminas Bagdonas attended the event in Tel Aviv, as did Beit Vilna director Miki Kantor and Arie Ben-Ari Grozdensky, the chairman of the executive board of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Isrsael.
Rudashevski’s diary is one of only a few Holocaust chronicles recorded as events happened, and one of even fewer such diaries written by children. He wrote the diary in Yiddish. The Lithuanian edition contains the same Yiddish text in the second half of the book.
Photo: Gintaras Šiuparys
A ceremony was held Friday to mark the beginning of construction work on the Lost Shtetl museum in Šeduva, Lithuania. The museum will be a completely new kind of experience using modern technology to present the history and culture of and to commemorate the former Litvak shtetl.
Marija Dautartaitė delivered a welcome on behalf of Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė, followed by speeches by speaker of the Lithuanian parliament Viktoras Pranckietis, prime minister Saulius Skvernelis, foreign minister Linas Linkevičius, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum director Markas Zingeris, US ambassador to Lithuania Anne Hall, Finnish ambassador to Lithuania Christer Michelson, genealogist and education Eli Rabinowitz from South Africa and Australia, Holocaust film director Saulius Beržinis and Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund founder and museum project manager Sergey Kanovich.
Also attending were ambassadors and heads of mission from the embassies of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, France, Germany, Russia and Romania, as well as members of the municipal and regional governments and interested citizens from all parts of Lithuania.
The second week in May saw numerous events and meetings at the Kaunas Jewish Community.
The hectic and hot week began with a meeting between representatives of the Kaunas Jewish Community and the Denkendorfer Kries für christlich-jüdische Begegnung (Denkendorf Association for Chirstian-Jewish Encounter) from Germany. Association board members Eva and Otmar Vöhringer have been inviting their compatriots for several years now to undertake what are in a sense pilgrimages to Holocaust sites in Poland and the Baltic states and to meet survivors and descendants of survivors in those countries. More than 20 years ago now Dr. Hartmut Metzger began and became the spiritual inspiration behind this initiative. He also worked with late Kaunas Jewish Community member Judelis Ronderis to organize aid for impoverished Jews who had been evacuated to the Soviet Union during the Holocaust.
On May 8 the members of the association of family and friends of deportee convoy no. 73 visited Kaunas and the Ninth Fort in Kaunas. The group comes to Kaunas from France once every two years and warm and friendly friendships have been made with the Kaunas Jewish Community. LJC executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas attended the ceremony at the Ninth Fort this year. On May 15, 1944, convoy no. 73, a train from Drancy, France, delivered 878 Jews to the Baltic states, most of whom were taken off the train in Kaunas and shot at the Ninth Fort. Others were taken to the camp in Pravieniškiai, Lithuania, and to Estonia.
The Vilnius Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium held their annual bar and bat mitzvah ceremony at the Choral Synagogue and Lithuanian Jewish Community. According to the Torah, boys became adults at age 13 and girls at age 12. The rite of passage was led by Hebrew teachers Motti Feigin and Ruth Reches. Principal Miša Jakobas recalled his own bar mitzvah ceremony 55 years ago in Telšiai. He congratulated each participant individually. LJC executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas presented the warm wishes of the Community and presented all of the participants presents. Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon also sent a letter of congratulations. The new adults lit candles for their grandparents, parents, for the LJC, Jerusalem, Israel and child Holocaust victims. They also performed skits, scenes from Jewish life, and spoke Hebrew on stage, then performed a final song to great applause.
Lithuania as remembered by world-famous artists from their youth is the theme of an exhibit opening at the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum June 6. Over 40 works will be displayed from the museum’s collection and from other museums and private collections in Lithuania and abroad. Most will be displayed publicly for the first time. Besides the artwork, the exhibit includes information stands and two art films.
Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky met Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, on May 15. She personally gave him a copy of the LJC’s Lithuanian translation of the Holocaust diary of Vilnius ghetto prisoner Yitzhak Rudashevski. They discussed the influence the book would have in the future on Holocaust consciousness in Lithuania. Avner Shalev praised the LJC and the chairwoman’s continuing efforts and work in raising Holocaust awareness and promoting Jewish culture.
Two families from the United States and Israel visited the Panevėžys Jewish Community May 15. Jack and Rose Todes came from Philadelphia and his sister Phillipa and husband Benjamin Segan arrived from Israel. Their ancestors lived on Ukmergės street in Panevėžys. Grandfather Todes was a member of the Panevėžys city council in 1890. The family owned real estate, shops and factories.
Phillipa Segan was greatly interested in archival photographs of the city and promised to keep in touch.
Following the visit, Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman took the guests to the Holocaust mass murder site in Kurganava Forest where 24 members of the Todes family were murdered in the early days of World War II in Lithuania.
The Kalvarija Public Library held events to celebrate Europe Day on May 9, 2018. Historian Alvydas Totoris led a large group on a tour of Jewish features surviving in the small Lithuanian town. The walking tour concluded at the large synagogue complex in Kalvarija where there was an exhibit of old photographs of the city.
More information in Lithuanian here.
At 12 noon, Wednesday, May 23, 2018, we will march with Litvaks from Israel on the path 70,000 Jews walked to their mass murder from the Ponar railroad station to the Ponar Memorial Complex.
We invite you to come and remember what happened.
This year we ask those wishing to make use of transportation provided by the Lithuanian Jewish Community to register beforehand by sending your name and surname by email to email@example.com or to call +370 672 40942. A bus will depart from Pylimo street no. 4 at 10:50 A.M. on March 23 to carry registered participants to the event.
The Makabi Lithuanian Athletics Club held a reporting conference at the Lithuanian Jewish Community on May 13, 2018. The agenda included presentation of an annual report by the governance structure and an action plan for 2018.
“We praise the Lithuanian parliament’s unanimous decision to announce the Year of the Vilna Gaon and the History of the Jews of Lithuania in 2020. We appreciate this initiative was discussed with the Lithuanian Jewish Community.
“We consider this significant and a continuation of Lithuania’s pledge to take into consideration the history of the Jews of Lithuania and to pay it sufficient attention at the national level,” Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky commented.
The parliament, taking into account that in 2020 we will mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Vilna Gaon, Eliyu ben Salaman Zalman, the great Lithuanian rabbi and the leader of the Litvak misnagdim school of thought, resolved to name 2020 the Year of the Vilna Gaon and of Lithuanian Jewish History. A total of 92 MPs voted unanimously in favor of parliamentary resolution No. XIIIP-1289(3) to name this commemorative year.
The resolution emphasizes Lithuanian Jews are an indivisible part of Lithuanian society from the time of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and have contributed significantly to the development of Lithuanian statehood, history, culture and learning.
This decision celebrates the more than 700 years of Lithuanian Jewish history as an inalienable part of Lithuanian history and deepens ties with the Lithuanian state among Jews living in Lithuania and those who have moved abroad.
The Lithuanian parliament proposed the Government form a commission for celebrating the Year of the Vilna Gaon and of the History of the Jews of Lithuania which would by February 1, 2019, draft a plan and series of measures for marking the year, and allocate funds for implementing the plan.