2016 Named Year for Remembering Lithuanian President Kazys Grinius

The Yad Vashem Memorial Museum and Institute in Jerusalem has recognized interwar Lithuanian president Kazys Grinius and wife Kristina as Righteous Gentiles based on Kaunas ghetto underground partisan Dmitri Gelpern's testimony.

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Rothschild Foundation Conference

The Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe held a conference to discuss Jewish cemetery heritage protection issues in Vilnius from October 25 to 28.

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Difficult challenges for Lithuania and Israel

President Dalia Grybauskaitė, who is in Israel on an official visit, met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The meeting – the first between the Lithuanian President and the President of Israel, who was elected last year – focused on the most relevant issues relating to regional security and bilateral cooperation.

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What did I inherit from my family who survived the Lithuanian Holocaust?

In this important and poignant collection of thoughts and memories from descendants of Holocaust survivors, 88 men and women from around the world share personal, often heartrending reflections...

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Lithuanian and Indian Jewish Communities Make Contact

2016-04-26

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On Sunday, April 16, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky met with representatives of the Indian Jewish Community and discussed opportunities for working together.

Chairwoman Kukliansky visited synagogues, met with local Jews and learned about their history and activities in India.

Kukliansky was visiting Mumbai, formerly Bombay, India’s largest city and home to a number of religious minorities in the country.

In discussions with local Jewish leaders, Kukliansky spoke about the experience of Litvaks and proposed holding a screening in Mumbai of documentary films about the history of Lithuanian Jews.

Her visit took place with the help of the Lithuanian embassy in India. Until now there has been no official contact between the Indian Jewish community and the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

About 4,000 Jews call Mumbai home and the city of around 12.5 million people has 8 working synagogues.

Photos here.

Source

Attend the March of the Living

2016-04-26

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites you to attend the annual March of the Living procession from the Ponar railroad station to the Ponar Holocaust Memorial and the commemorative ceremony following this on Holocaust Day (Yom ha Shoah) on Thursday, May 5.

The march will begin at 12:30 P.M. from the parking lot next to the railroad tracks in Ponar. A bus will take those wishing to attend but this year you will have to register beforehand (see more below). The bus will wait at the base of Kalinausko street in Vilnius near the Lithuanian Jewish Community, next to the Frank Zappa statue and the Central Clinic. Be ready to board by 11:15 A.M. because the bus will depart at 11:30 A.M. sharp.

The Embassy of Israel in Lithuania, the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum and the Lithuanian Jewish Community also invite you to attend events following the March of the Living at the Government House of the Republic of Lithuania including a ceremony to honor Lithuanian Righteous Gentiles at 3:30 P.M. the same day. Government House is located at Gedimino prospect No. 11, Vilnius. Please come early for this event, arriving by 2:30 P.M., with personal identification.

To register for the bus, the Government event or both, please send your intention to attend with your full name to info@lzb.lt or call (8 5) 2613 003 by April 29.

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky with Passover Greetings and a Message about Anti-Semitism

2016-04-22

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Recently US State Department special envoy for Holocaust affairs Nicholas Dean visited the Lithuanian Jewish Community. This was not just a coincidence. The rise of Holocaust denial in Lithuania was the reason for his visit. Jews from Lithuania and their offspring living in Israel and South Africa have been receiving negative answers regarding their applications for Lithuanian citizenship for some time.

As the questions mount over why one set of people have received Lithuanian passports while others haven’t, despite similar circumstances, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, the Interior Affairs Ministry, Migration Department officials and members of parliament have begun to investigate. While the law on citizenship says one thing, officials are saying other things, and one wonders why it is left to each individual bureaucrat to interpret history. Yet another revision of history is being carried out in Lithuania, which is an essential element in denials of the Holocaust. The vitality of anti-Semitism in Lithuania is shown by the way citizenship is restored, attempting to foist upon Jews who fled persecution that they left Lithuania for other reasons, not for political reasons, not for opposing the occupational regime, not because of persecution by that regime. Another example of the upturn in anti-Semitism is provided by Laisvas Laikraštis, a newspaper which prints openly anti-Semitic articles without commentary. The Community has lodged a complaint against the newspaper with the prosecutor, but no action has been taken.

Raimundas Pankevičius, a member of the Conservatives/Lithuanian Christian Democrat Party and leader of the Panevėžys faction of political prisoners and deportees, has gone to court for scandalous anti-Semitic statements made during a sitting of the Panevėžys city council. He is being tried for the public statement that Jews shot Jews in Lithuania during World War II. As if that weren’t enough, the group of former political prisoners and deportees who turned out to support Pankevičius at the trial attempted to protest loudly during the second court proceeding and were also charged with making an anti-Semitic attack. It is odd that no other member of the Panevėžys city council attended the trial. Attorneys working with the Lithuanian Jewish Community found Pankevičius’s public statements constituted an anti-Semitic attack distorting historical facts. Jews have asked for a public apology. The Jewish community has suffered many such statements made by Pankevičius against Jews over the years and only took the case to prosecutors after all patience was exhausted and it was no longer tolerable to suffer the constant insults.

Despite these unpleasant matters, which while not new nonetheless do cause pain and disappointment, we look forward to the holiday of Passover. The community must be united, and I speak to the young, the adults and the elderly. The community is strong when its members are loyal to the community. We must honor and respect one another. We are not many, but the community is our home and the common concern of all of us.

Passover is upon us, reminding us all of our sacred traditions and the opportunity to experience joy.

We remember the liberation of the Jews from the tyranny and brutality of the pharaoh of Egypt. Passover is the rebirth of the Jewish community. Jews around the world celebrate the holiday with joy. It is a beautiful time in the year when family and good friends get together to celebrate the miracle of freedom, sharing greetings of peace and joy. On this occasion I want to wish you, your families and your homes happiness, and to wish for more goodness of heart.

Celebrate the holiday together with your family. The haggadah is the Jewish text which explains the Passover seder to us. Reading the text at the seder table is a reminder to every Jew of the Torah’s injunction: “You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.'”

Deputy Speaker Sends Passover Greetings

2016-04-22

Former Lithuanian prime minister and current deputy speaker of parliament Gediminas Kirkilas has sent Passover greetings to chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Kirkilas is also the chairman of the Lithuanian parliament’s European Affairs Committee.

“Please accept my sincere greetings to the Lithuanian Jewish Community and to you personally as the significant holiday of Passover draws near. Recently I visited Israel where I had the opportunity again to remember the miracle of the Jewish People’s liberation from slavery in Egypt,” the former Lithuanian prime minister wrote.

“On this occasion I wish success in your and your honored community’s further work, the wonderful fulfillment of your plans for the future and harmonious living as we face the challenges of the present. Let concord not lack in your families, nor human happiness in your hearts,” Kirkilas concluded in his Passover greetings.

American Virtuosi Concert in Vilnius

2016-04-21

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Don’t miss your chance to experience the American Virtuosi and Jerusalem of Lithuania performing live at the Vilnius Choral Synagogue Thursday, April 21 at 5:00 P.M.! The address is Pylimo street no. 39 and the concert is free and open to the public.

Some photos of their visit at the Lithuanian Jewish Community are available here.

Interwar Jewish Composers

2016-04-21

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a concert dedicated to the memory of
Jan Zwartendijk
Dutch diplomat and Righteous Gentile

5:00 P.M., Friday, April 29
at the Lithuanian Jewish Community,Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius

Program:

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Litvaks Didn’t Suffer Enough to Deserve Lithuanian Citizenship?

2016-04-18

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by Grant Gochin

Lithuanian officials state that Jews were not oppressed in Lithuania:

In an astonishing display regarding the ignorance of rampant anti-Semitism in inter-war Lithuania, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius stated that there was “no violence, repressions or anything like that at the time”, against Jews in Lithuania during the period 1918 – 1939. Based on this assumption, Lithuania intends to deny citizenship applications for descendants of Lithuanian Jews. The belief that Jews did not suffer enough, in Interwar Lithuania, to warrant citizenship is simply preposterous.

http://www.baltictimes.com/litvaks_continually_rejected_restoration_of_lithuanian_citizenship/

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Jews represented about 14% of Lithuania’s population. In May 1915, the Czarist regime deported and exiled approximately 100,000 Lithuanian Jews to the Russian interior. After the war ended, Lithuanian Jews, who had lived in Lithuania for centuries and often constituted half of the population of many towns, were promised that the new independent Lithuanian state would be tolerant to minorities. Jews provided considerable political support for Lithuania in international forums and enlisted into the Lithuanian army to defend their country’s independence. A great many war medals were awarded to these soldiers for their extraordinary bravery and many lost their lives fighting for Lithuanian independence. In return for their contributions, the government granted full autonomy to the Jewish community and created a Cabinet-level Ministry for Jewish Affairs. Unfortunately, these promises were not kept; in 1923 funding for this Ministry was withdrawn, and in 1924 the Ministry was abolished. Sadly, the Ministry had served little purpose, because in 1923 the Lithuanian Government reportedly rounded up and expelled Jews whom they considered to be “alien”.

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Invitation to Literary Lecture “Hate is a Failure of Imagination”

2016-04-28

The Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum invites you to the literary lecture Hate is a Failure of Imagination.

It will take place on May 5, 2016, at 5:30 P.M.,

at the Tolerance Center, Naugarduko street no. 10/2, Vilnius.

Narrator Gregorij von Leïtis is a winner of the New York Theater Club Prize, founding artistic director of Elysium and president of the Lahr von Leïtis Academy & Archive.

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Olameinu Mishpakha Camp for Young Families 2016

2016-04-26

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Dear parents,

You are invited to register for the Olameinu Mishpakha Baltic Camp for Young Families 2016 to be held June 21 to 26 in Dubingiai, Lithuania. The camp is intended for Jewish families with children 12 and under.

There will be a packed program of activities for the parents as well as the children, including discussion of current events, interesting lessons and lectures, unforgettable evenings and recreation for the entire family surrounded by friends.

Registration forms are available here.

Please register quickly because the number of places is extremely limited.

Passover Greetings from Vatican Ambassador Archbishop Pedro López Quintana

2016-04-26

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