Lithuanian Radio To Revisit Litvak Past

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Beginning September 25 Lithuanian state radio will broadcast a series about Lithuanian shtetls. Radio journalists will talk about nine small Lithuanian towns where only a few buildings stand in silent testimony to their once thriving Jewish life, and will interview people now in their 80s who remember that legacy from childhood.

The episodes in the series will be broadcast every second Sunday after the 11 o’clock news and during the Ryto garsai progream on Tuesdays at 9:00 A.M. The first episode for broadcast September 25 is about Molėtai.

Lithuanians and Jews lived in common in the shtetls before World War II and not only made a life for themselves, but contributed deeply to the creation of the Lithuanian state and the economic and cultural development of the towns. War and the Holocaust, which saw the complete destruction of entire Jewish shtetl communities, and the various roles played by Lithuanian neighbors, followed by decades of occupation, have largely pushed this part of history into oblivion.

Not all who remember the time of Jewish prosperity are eager to talk about it. Many people are still steeped in feelings of fear, guilt and shame. At the same time descendants of Holocaust survivors are coming back in ever greater numbers to the birthplaces of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and making sense of a land which for many years only kindled negative emotions. Some of them are working to strengthen Lithuanian-Jewish relations, others seek to preserve the memory of their ancestors.

This documentary series won’t be easy listening. Even 75 years later, witnesses to the Jewish tragedy aren’t able to quell their tears and many are unable or unwilling to understand this darkest period in Lithuania’s history. On the other hand, they also recall the happy life of Lithuanians and Jews before the war, including childhood friends, the many Jewish shops and the taste of fresh bagels.

Lithuanian national radio frequencies:

Vilnius 89.0 MHz

Kaunas 102.1 MHz

Klaipėda 102.8 MHz

Šiauliai 100.9 MHz

Panevėžys 107.5 MHz

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky Speaks at Ponar September 23, 2016

LŽB pirmininkės F. Kukliansky kalba Paneriuose Holokausto aukų pagerbimo ceremonijoje

Dear participants,

I am sincerely thankful that you have gathered here today together with the Jewish Community to honor the memory of Holocaust victims.

But can we truly speak about honoring Holocaust victims when multiple streets in Lithuania are named after Kazys Škirpa, there is a school named after Jonas Noreika and the monument to Juozas Krikštaponis has still not been torn down?

We don’t have public spaces named after Ozer Finkelstein, Katz Motel or Volf Kagan. How many know the name of Liba Mednikienė, a scout in the Lithuanian battles for independence? Despite her service, she was murdered by Lithuanians during the Holocaust.

This and similar fates awaited the victims at Ponar. Our younger generation still doesn’t know about 650 years of Jewish history in Lithuania, before, during and after the Holocaust. Will the history textbooks teach this to the young citizens of Lithuania someday?

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has more questions than answers. The only sure thing is that an irreversible process has taken place and the country will never again be what it was before the Holocaust. But the Jewish Community is still here, and as long as it is, it will seek justice. But the highest value, truth, can only be restored when Lithuania works up the courage to name the perpetrators of the Holocaust. To remain silent about the Holocaust perpetrators, to forget the victims of the Holocaust and to disregard the living Jewish community is the same thing as killing the Jews again.

Today we mark the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the mass murder of the Jews in Lithuania. Our hope is that the smaller towns of Lithuania will remember their lost Jewish communities all year round, not just during Holocaust commemorations. From sporadic, random and often simply superficial events, memory of the Holocaust needs to become general knowledge, to become an integral part of the worldview of every conscientious citizen of Lithuania.

Thank you all who are not indifferent to the memory of the Holocaust, the Jewish tragedy, Lithuania’s tragedy.

Lithuanian Jewish Genocide Victims Honored at Ponar

Paneriuose pagerbtos Lietuvos žydų genocido aukos

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A ceremony to honor the victims of the genocide of the Jews of Lithuania was held at the Ponar Memorial Complex on September 23. The event was organized by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Defense Ministry, the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania and the Vilnius municipality.

A minute of silence was observed and wreaths and flowers were laid at a monument to Holocaust victims. Students sang the Vilnius ghetto anthem. Vilnius ghetto inmates shared their thoughts. A cantor performed kaddish and an Israeli choir performed songs and hymns.

Before the ceremony participants in the Way of Memory civic initiative read the names of people murdered at Ponar, including the age and profession of victims, bringing the dead and the living closer together.

Lithuanian Defense Minister and Commander of Ground Forces Honor Victims at Ponar

Paneriuose rugsėjo 23 d. krašto apsaugos ministras Juozas Olekas ir Lietuvos kariuomenės Sausumos pajėgų vadas pagerbė Holokausto aukas

On September 23 Lithuanian defense minister Juozas Olekas and commander of Lithuanian ground forces brigadier general Valdemaras Rupšys participated at a ceremony to honor the victims of the Lithuanian genocide of Jews at the Ponar Memorial Complex. They placed a wreath at a monument there in the name of the ministry and the military.

Also participating at the ceremony were Lithuanian Independence Act signatory and chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet/Constituent Parliament Vytautas Landsbergis, members of parliament, other representatives from national defense and soldiers in the Lithuanian military’s honor guard.

Information courtesy the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense.

Leonidas Donskis Dead at Age 54

Netekome Leonido Donskio

Leonidas Donskis, a Lithuanian philosopher, scholar and former member of the European Parliament, deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, political activist, author and notable figure in Lithuanian society and academic and political life, died Wednesday morning.

He reportedly died at Vilnius International Airport from a heart attack.

Our People Lie Buried Here

1919-zydu-zemes-ukio-mokykla-veliucionys

Simon Wiesenthal director and author Efraim Zuroff and Lithuanian author Rūta Vanagaitė are inviting Lithuanians to mark the Day of Remembrance of the Genocide of the Jews in Lithuania on September 23 this year by looking up the mass murder site closest to the their homes and making the trek there to light a candle and perhaps leave a small stone at the grave, a Jewish tradition.

Zuroff and Vanagaitė are focusing commemoration efforts on the town of Vėliučionys, a mass murder site about 12 kilometers outside Vilnius.

Efraim Zuroff:

This coming Friday, Lithuania commemorates the Holocaust, and Rūta Vanagaitė and I have launched a special initiative entitled “Čia guli Musiškiai” (Our People Lie Buried Here) to encourage Lithuanians to visit the mass grave of Shoa victims nearest their home. In all, there are 227 recognized mass graves in Lithuania, documented in the Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas, which is available online.

We are encouraging residents of Vilna/Vilnius to visit one of the most neglected mass graves near the city at a place called Vėliučionys, where 1,159 Jewish men, women and children were murdered by Lithuanian auxiliary police and a special mass murder squad on September 21 and 22, 1941. There will be a brief ceremony at 5 PM as we march from the manor where they were confined to the site of their murder.

Jewish Street Gets New Sign in Yiddish, Hebrew

Vilniuje Žydų gatvės pavadinimas užrašytas dar dviem kalbomis – ir יידישע גאס (jidiš klb.), ir רחוב היהודים (hebrajų klb.)

Žydų gatvė (Jewish Street, aka Yidishe Gas, aka ulica Żydowska), where the traditional Jewish quarter and the Great Synagogue of Vilnius was located, got a new sign in Yiddish and Hebrew Tuesday.

This was one in a continuing series of new signs in foreign languages, a controversial effort by Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius to showcase the multicultural identity of the Lithuanian capital. Earlier signs in “minority” languages included ones for Islandijos [Iceland] street, Washington Square, Varšuvos [Warsaw] street, Rusų [Russian] street and Totorių [Tatar] street in Vilnius.

Names of Jews Murdered To Be Remembered in Lithuania

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On September 22 and 23, the 75th anniversary of the mass murder of the Jews of Lithuania, the names of Holocaust victims will be read out loud on the eve and day of the Day of Remembrance of the Jewish Genocide Victims of Lithuania. The civic initiative VARDAI [NAMES] invites the public to remember the brutally exterminated citizens of Lithuania by uttering their names and surnames at the locations where they once lived.

VARDAI coordinator and museum specialist Milda Jakulytė-Vasil said: “A person is not a number. The reading of the names is a personal expression of commemoration and empathy. It only takes five minutes. We welcome everyone who wants to remember.” Participants at the events have said this kind of Holocaust victim commemoration helped them comprehend the scope of the tragedy in a very personal way. When you say a person’s name, it’s no longer possible to pretend that person never existed, and the statistics telling us 90 percent of 220,000 Jews living in Lithuania were murdered becomes more than just a number.

This will be the sixth annual reading of the names in Lithuanian cities and towns, to include more communities than ever before. At least several dozen cities and towns are participating in reading the names this year, including Vilnius, Kaunas, Marijampolė, Ukmergė, Merkinė, Molėtai, Jonava, Kėdainiai, Švėkšna, Dieveniškės, Eišiškės, Kretinga, Jurbarkas, Žemaičių Naumiestis and others. Many of these events include additional components, such as cleaning up mass murder sites, visiting old Jewish cemeteries and meetings with survivors.

I’m Not Jewish: A Western Response

Some Call Lithuania First Eastern European Country to Admit Holocaust Complicity

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper printed an editorial on August 29 positively portraying Lithuanian attempts to speak openly and honestly about the Holocaust. Lithuanian ambassador to Germany Deividas Matulionis pointed to the many friendly and constructive comments left under the article in German.

Warsaw-based Frankfurter Allgemeine correspondent Gerhard Gnauck’s feature article of August 29 is provided in rough translation below.

Commemoration in Lithuania
Our Own People

 

Lithuania commemorates the mass murder of the Jews, and even the president wants to be there. This is a big step in a land silent for so long about the pogroms.

litauen-stellt-sich-seiner
Lithuania faces her past: remembering Holocaust victims in Vilnius in May. Some 70,000 Jews were murdered at Paneriai.

For forty years Lithuanian writer Marius Ivaškevičius in his own words “had been living for 40 years in complete ignorance, on the margins of a gigantic tragedy without even sensing it existed.” Ivaškevičius was born in 1973 in Molėtai, a small and seemingly idyllic town about an hour’s drive north of the capital Vilnius. A paradise of dachas surrounded by lakes. But then something must have gotten into him, he was stung by a wasp. Or at least his fellow residents thought so.

Last week the time had come for Ivaškevičius to declare: “I’m not Jewish,” and that was the title above the text he posted on the popular Baltic Internet portal delfi.lt. It wasn’t a wasp, it was a tick which had bitten him at the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, the author wrote ironically. Since his visit there he had been “infected.” He concerned himself with the history of his hometown, Molėtai, where two-thirds of the residents were murdered 75 years ago, on August 29, 1941. Lithuanians wielded the weapons.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Demands Halt to Construction Work

Lithuanian Jewish Community

 

September 7, 2016 No. 319
September 6, 2016 No. 1-/6/P-007

To:

Tomas Pauliukonys, director
Vestata
V. Kudirkos street no. 18, Vilnius 03105

Arvydas Avulis, chairman of board of directors,
Hanner
Konstitucijos prospect no. 7, Vilnius 09308

cc:

Diana Varnaitė, director
Cultural Heritage Department under the Ministry of Culture
Šnipiškių street no. 3, Vilnius 09309

REGARDING WORK AT RINKTINĖS STREET NO. 3, VILNIUS

 

It has come to our attention that by order of companies under your direction during the last days of August of this year there was earth dug without permission during demolition and construction at the site of the former Žaligiris Stadium within the protected zone of the old Vilnius Jewish cemetery in Šnipiškės (cultural heritage register number KVR 31812, henceforth “Cemetery”). This is a gross violation of the signed agreement on the terms of the cultural heritage protection of the protective buffer zone of the Cemetery (henceforth “Terms”) adopted on August 26, 2009, as well as the agreement between the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Vesata company and the Archeoligijos centras public organization (henceforth “Agreement”).

We demand an immediate halt to all work within the territory of the Cemetery and its protected zone until representatives of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (henceforth “Committee”) are able to assess the situation and decide appropriately regarding further work at the site.

According to our information, the earliest date a Committee representative could arrive is from September 12 to 15 of this year. Please respond quickly as to whether this date is appropriate for a visit, and as to whether you are willing to pay all costs associated with it.

[signed]
Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman

Reminder about Cemetery Clean-Up

Dear LJC members participating in the September events,

This is to remind you that we are going to the Jewish cemetery on Sudervės road in Vilnius at 2:30 on September 20 to do a clean-up. The bus will leave from the Lithuanian Jewish Community at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius.

Please wear clothing appropriate for the work and the weather!

Thank you for taking part! If you have any questions, please contact us.

Sincerely,
Lithuanian Jewish Community administration

telephone: +370 5 261 3003
email: info@lzb.lt

Same Problem Every Year at Jewish Mass Murder Sites

Kiekvienais metais ta pati problema prie žydų žudymo vietų

Every year the Panevėžys Jewish Community writes the municipal and regional administrations regarding the most tragic sites in Jewish history, sites which need continual upkeep and maintenance, the Jewish mass murder sties in the city, district and region of Panevėžys. And also in other towns such as Kupiškis, Pasvalys, Biržai, and smaller towns such as Krekenava, Pumpėnai, Raguva, Obeliai, Ramygala, Vabalninkas and others.

A large number of municipal and regional administrations consider all our requests in a spirit of goodwill and are engaged in solving the problem of maintenance at these places of tragedy, but, unfortunately, there are also a number of administrations who discover all sorts of reasons not to fulfill our requests. We believe there needs to be a common stance by government so that every year, especially in summer, cemeteries and the mass murder and mass grave sites are mowed and cleaned up. The municipal bodies of the towns of Kupiškis and Rokiškis are paying attention to the problem, while we have to beg and cajole the Pasvalys administration constantly to maintain and clean up the mass murder site in the Žadeikiai Forest there. The Jewish cemeteries in Krekenava and Raguva are in extremely bad repair.

Support the Lithuanian Jewish Community

Even your small donation today can help the Lithuanian Jewish Community achieve great things tomorrow.

The Lithuanian Jewish community has roots going back 700 years. Only a remnant survived the Holocaust. Although the current community is small, we are extremely active and are working hard to foster Jewish identity, maintain traditions and culture, commemorate Holocaust victims, provide social services to our members and promote tolerance in society.

We invite you to contribute to reviving at least a small portion of the legendary Jerusalem of Lithuania. Perform your mitzvah (good deed) today!

Award

Apdovanojimas

Lieutenant Artūras Jasinskas, commander of the Lithuanian military’s volunteer defense forces, awarded Nicholas Benjamin Israel, head of Baltic regional military information operations support team of US special operations in Europe, for his exceptional personal contribution to expanding and strengthening cooperation between the US military and Lithuania’s volunteer defense forces Friday, September 9.

The name of the Lithuanian military medal is “For Distinguished Service.”

Israel’s cousin, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, attended the ceremony.

I’m Not Jewish

marius-ivaskevicius
by Marius Ivaškevičius

That’s what I want to tell everyone who the last three months have tactfully asked this of my friends and relatives. I am not Jewish at all, I don’t have a drop of Jewish blood. So why is he casting his lot with those Jews, what wild insect bit him? That’s another question heard often.

I can answer it almost by rote: I was bitten by a tick. Three years ago I filmed one scene at the old Jewish cemetery in Warsaw and it sucked my blood there. Furthermore, I got Lyme disease. And it so happened, or perhaps it was decided beforehand by that treacherous Jewish tick, that when I was taking antibiotics I became interested in the Jews in my town, their fate in my native Molėtai. And my hair stood on end and I got goose-bumps when I realized I had been living for 40 years in complete ignorance, on the margins of a gigantic tragedy without even sensing it existed. I knew there had been Jews, they had lived here, because their old cemetery still exists in Molėtai, as does their old “red bricks,” a long building, the oldest in the town, of connected shops, a sort of shopping mall of the period. I knew some unknown number of them had been killed, since, as I thought, some of them had been involved in Communist activities.

New Bagel Shop Menu

The Community’s kosher café the Bagel Shop invites you to come in and try some of new menu items for fall, including new bagels, Israeli salads and fresh-squeezed juice. Our new menu is displayed below and you can download it as well, or just stop by at Pylimo no.4 in Vilnius during regular business hours and see if you don’t find something which makes your mouth water. Oh, and we’re baking fresh challa bread every Friday.

Litvak Wit in Yiddish Sayings

Dita Sperling2 2016

It’s important for people to hear the sound of Yiddish. There are many interesting sayings. My grandma used to say “one butt can’t be at two fairs at once.” Takhrikhim is a linen cloth used as a burial shroud. I remember I had this rich uncle who was stingy. Something needed to be purchased for the bathtub, but he’s not buying it. I said to him: “Uncle, takhrikhim have no pockets. And what do we keep in our pockets? Money. When they are burying you, you can’t take your money with you.” After I said that, uncle went and bought everything right away. Incidentally, pockets in Yiddish are “keshenes,” almost the same as Lithuanian “kišenės.”

Aphorisms, sayings and etc.

On Sunday I thought I’d go on Monday, but I put it off, and I didn’t go on Tuesday, either, because there was market on Wednesday. And why should I go on Thursday, since Friday is the start of Sabbath?

When the mouse is full, the flour is bitter.

No man scratches his head without reason: either he has worries, or lice.

Molėtai Holocaust Procession Draws Record Crowd

eisena-skirta-iszudytiems-moletu-krasto-zydams-pagerbti-faina

More than 2,600 and perhaps as many as 4,000 people attended a rally and walked the route along which 2,000 Jews were marched to their deaths 75 years ago in the sleepy Lithuanian town of Molėtai Monday. The population of Molėtai was roughly 6,400 when last counted in 2011.

The town center and surrounding streets were filled with local residents and people from around the world, including Holocaust survivors and their descendants. Many Lithuanians brought their children and there were people from Estonia and a number of Lithuanian officials in the crowd. One group of young people waved Polish flags–the Polish Armia Krajowa operated in the area in 1944. A small group of Lithuanian boy and girl scouts attended, while another small group carried a Lithuanian flag, and others sported Israeli flags. A monk in black robes stood by the stage, on the other side of which there was a long line of people holding posters with names, faces and descriptions. A central area contained about twenty folding chairs for elderly and distinguished guests, including Vytautas Landsbergis and Holocaust survivor Irena Veisaitė. Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris, a Litvak, also attended. The priest Tomas Šernas was also there, as was Lithuanian Jewish partisan Fania Brancovskaja. Other distinguished guests included Conservative Party and parliamentary opposition leader Andrius Kubilius, Lithuanian defense minister Juozas Olekas and deputy foreign minister Mantvydas Bekešius.

Record Turnout for Biržai Holocaust Commemoration

Around 200 people attended an annual commemoration of the Holocaust victims of Biržai, Lithuania Sunday, August 28, 2016. In prior years those travelling to the rural town near the Latvian border numbered in the dozens. Only members of four families survived the Holocaust in Biržai. Their descendants now live in other locations in Lithuania and Israel and have been making the pilgrimage back to honor their murdered relatives since the end of World War II.

A Holocaust historian who attended said larger interest this year was likely the result of publicity for the Molėtai Holocaust commemoration on August 29.

Ten speakers spoke at the commemoration, including a moving speech by Lionginas Virbalas, the Catholic archbishop of Kaunas who was born and grew up in Biržai. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky also spoke eloquently about the past and the future. Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon spoke and a representative from the US embassy whose Jewish family roots are in Biržai also participated.

There wasn’t a formal march to the killing site. Instead there was a walking tour of Jewish sites in Biržai, including the former synagogue, Jewish houses and buildings and the old Jewish cemetery, where a portion of the Jews of Biržai were murdered. The group then moved to the killing site about 2 kilometers outside town where prayers were said by representatives of different religious communities.

Holocaust Commemoration in Ukmergė

HOLOKAUSTO AUKŲ MINĖJIMO RENGINYS UKMERGĖJE

Gathering in the Pivonija grove in Ukmergė on Sunday, September 4, 2016

Program

12:00-12:45 Commemoration of Holocaust Victims: minute of silence, introductory speech by Ukmergė Jewish Community chairman Artūras Taicas, presentation of Tolerance Center by director Vida Pulkauninkienė, statements by participants;

12:45 Meeting of participants at Big Stone Restaurant, Kauno street no. 5, Ukmergė: snacks and coffee or tea, presentation of mobile app Discover Jewish Lithuania;

2:00-2:20 Short tour of Old Town, end of event.

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky on the Annihilation of Jewish Communities in the Lithuanian Shtetls

In the final days of August we mark the 75th anniversary of the extermination of the large Jewish communities who once lived in the Lithuanian shtetls (small towns). Neither the shtetls nor the Jews survived the brutal mass murder. For 75 years no one has spoken Yiddish any longer in those small towns. No one celebrates Sabbath, the synagogues are boarded up or are now storehouses or workshops. What does this anniversary mean to the Jews and the shtetls of Lithuania?

Fainos portretaa

We mark the anniversaries because the people are no longer with us. Those who still remember the Holocaust must mark the anniversaries of the mass murders, otherwise the small towns will forget entirely the murder of their Jewish neighbors, including men, women and children. Lithuanian society as a whole–and not without a lot of effort by the Jewish community–twenty-five years after Lithuanian independence has all of a sudden remembered that there were Jews here, and their contribution to everything we have in Lithuania today is huge. Jews created and built the centers of these small towns. They are no longer, or they are very few, and what will the old-timers in these towns tell their children and grandchildren?

After World War II Jews maintained the keyver oves tradition (from Yiddish keyver, “grave,” + oves “parents, ancestors”) where Jews would visit the mass murder sites where their relatives were buried, to remember them. They used to do it on exactly the anniversary of the day when the Jews of that shtetl were exterminated. I remember from my childhood how we used to go visit our murdered grandparents, and how others went to visit their murdered sisters, brothers and parents. No one marched in a procession, there were no marching bands playing. Keyver oves was a sad occasion. People were repentant, they cried and they prayed, hoping it such atrocities would never happen again. They went to the mass murder sites, of which there are 240 in Lithuania, not to give speeches. What else can be said after all these years? They gathered not to talk, but so that the town community would think about where they lived and with whom they lived, and so that they wouldn’t be ashamed to look their children and grandchildren in the eye. You cannot hide the truth, after all. You don’t need popular novels, and large print-runs cannot replace open communication about what happened. Everything was known long ago. It’s not the Jews who need public commemorations, we already know it all, for us it is sufficient to stand and to pray. Telling the truth and talking sincerely and openly is needed in every small town where Jews lived before the war.

The Road to Death (75th Anniversary of the Murder of the Jews of Molėtai)

Attorney Kazys Rakauskas sent the following to the Lithuanian Jewish Community webpage.

On central Vilniaus street in Molėtai the flowers bloom and the brightly-painted kindergarten greets the eye of passers-by. The bridge next to the statue of St. Nepomuk is also festooned with garlands of flowers. Small fish flash in the sun in the pure lake water flowing into the river. Cars quietly pass and young people flex their muscles on bicycles. The people of Molėtai hurry to work on foot.

They are a different generation of people. Even their parents only heard vaguely of the terror, tears and suffering which once overtook this street. Seventy-five years ago hundreds of Jews of Molėtai realized where they were being taken at this bridge. They threw their things they had taken with them when they were removed from the synagogues under armed guard into the Siesartis river. This street leading from the three synagogues on Kauno street became the road to death for two thousand people. They had been held prisoner there [in the synagogues] for days without food or water.

Preparations Under Way for Švenčionėliai Mass Murder Site Renovation

Ruošiamasi Švenčionėlių masinių žydų žudynių vietos tvarkymui

Work to renovate the Švenčionėliai mass murder site under the current plan is scheduled to begin in August and September, Švenčionys Jewish Community chairman Moisiejus Šapiro says. The period from June to November of 1941 was the most horrible and tragic period in the genocide, when about 80% of Jews in Lithuania were murdered. A ghetto was established in Švenčionys and mass murder operations were begun there. According to different sources, 7,000 to 8,000 Jews were shot across the Žeimena River in Švenčionėliai. A memorial marks the site.

Determining the exact identity of those murdered and buried near Švenčionėliai has been fraught with difficulty. After approaching numerous archives, only the names of seven Holocaust victims buried there were found. Chairman Moisiejus Šapiro is asking Holocaust survivors from the Švenčionys region and the small shtetls there and their children, grandchildren and relatives, wherever they might live now, to tell their stories and send him the names and surnames of those murdered at Švenčionėliai

He can be reached by email at moisa50@mail.ru

Seeking Holocaust Reconciliation in Lithuania, from Los Angeles

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The Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, occupies a stately stone building on a large, forested park in the city’s center. It is notably not a Holocaust museum. To find the Holocaust Exposition, look for a small, clapboard wooden building on a narrow side street.

Instead, the museum commemorates atrocities more often spoken of in Lithuania: the lethal brutality of the Soviet regime against citizens of the Baltic country, with Lithuanians as victims rather than perpetrators.

Half a world away, Grant Gochin, a wealth manager in Woodland Hills, has spent the better part of a quarter-century trying to bring about greater recognition for the genocide carried out largely by ethnic Lithuanians against their Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust.

Full story here.

Adam le Adam Concert in Vilnius Today

Israeli vocal ensemble Adam le Adam will perform one concert exclusively in Vilnius at the Old Town Hall square today at 6:00 P.M., September 22. The concert is free and open to the public.

Adam le Adam (Hebrew for “person for person”) is a group of 14 vocalists who perform Israeli and traditional Jewish folk songs in authentic arrangements. The ensemble was established by the late composer Jacob Hollaender in 1978. Under his musical direction the ensemble performed throughout Israel and recorded for radio and TV. Adam le Adam had also participated at International choir festivals in various countries around the globe.

During recent the musical director of the ensemble is maestro David Sebba.

Adam le Adam has won first place in choir competitions and has performed a novel program of choral soul music at the most distinguished festivals in Israel such as the Abu-Gosh Festival and the Vocalize in Acre. The ensemble has performed with the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra and the Israel Sinfonietta Beer-Sheva Orchestra at Nes-Amim Church and in the Bible-Lands Museum. Adam le Adam has also performed with other distinguished artists for the prime minister of Israel.

Vilnius concert song-list:

Farewell by S. Rosen, Y. Hollaender
Holiday Evening Alone by T. Attar, Y. Hollaender
Loved Her by T. Attar, Y. Hollaender
Prisoner No. 9/Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor by T. Alyagon, Y. Hollaender
Yom Kippur Prayer by O. Hammama
Bulgarian Folk Song/In the Vineyard of Yemen by N. Alterman,M. Zeira, M. Wilensky
Paneriai by A. Shlonsky, A. Tamir

Kaunas Jewish Community Visit Balbieriškis and Prienai

Kauno žydų bendruomenė lankėsi Balbieriškyje bei Prienuose.

The Kaunas Jewish Community visited Balbieriškis and Prienai, Lithuania at the invitation of Balbieriškis Tolerance Center director Rymantas Sidaravičius on the European Day of Jewish Culture, September 4. The delegation toured a Balbieriškis Tolerance Center exhibit on the history of the Jews of the town and reflecting the center’s current relationships and friendships with Jews from around the world. They also toured the town, where Jewish homes and buildings from before the war still stand, and honored the memory of the dead with a prayer at the old Jewish cemetery in Balbieriškis.

Representatives then went to Prienai and honored Holocaust victims there. In Prienai they attended a museum event dedicated to the European Day of Jewish Culture. The museum event included a stirring presentation of the history of the Jews of Prienai, funny stories from Jewish life from before the war, significant achievements, good relations between Jews and other town residents and the Holocaust. The event included passages in Hebrew and Yiddish. The hosts made the delegation feel right at home at every stop on their visit, as if they were visiting old friends.

Former Alytus Synagogue to House Museum

Buvusi sinagoga taps muziejumi

lzinios.lt

Renovation has begun on a century-old synagogue in Alytus, Lithuania. The building was used to store salt in the Soviet era and is now set to become a city community center and museum of Jewish culture. The Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Cultural Heritage Department and Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon who visited the town all gave their approval to the plans by Alytus. Support was pledges to secure funding to set up the museum of Jewish culture there and to acquire the necessary exhibit items.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

March of Memory in Semeliškės

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March of Memory in Semeliškės

at the former ghetto, Užupio street no. 14, Semeliškės at 12 noon, October 6, 2016, to commemorate the mass murder of the Jews of Semeliškės, Vievis and Žasliai in the Dergionys Forest 75 years ago.

We invite all people of good will to join this initiative to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Our being together on that day will symbolize our solidarity, our respect for the history of our region and our aspiration to make sure this kind of tragedy never happens again.

Patron: Elektrėnai municipal administration
Organizer: Strėva Semeliškės community
Partner: Semeliškės aldermanship

“We all must tell ourselves: this is our nation’s past. We are the heirs and must accept our inheritance. We will not raise even one person from the grave, we will not reconcile the victim with his murderer, but perhaps we will learn the lesson, so that what happened happens never again.”

Father Ričardas Doveika

“To die and to forget share the same root in the Lithuanian language. The Jews of Lithuania were murdered once, but we can still remember the story of each one. We can still do that. So who are we, if we think this doesn’t concern us? Who are we? From what clay are we made? If they are not us, who are we? Who are we? What does ‘we’ mean?”

Virginijus Savukynas, journalist

LJC Olameinu International Children’s Camp 2016

LŽB tarptautinė vaikų stovykla Olameinu 2016

Lithuanian Jewish Community youth programs coordinator and camp programs director Pavel Gulyakov reported the only negative at the camp this year was some not-so-great weather, it rained, preventing the children from visiting beautiful Lake Asveja at times. The camp went international this year with children from Jewish communities in all three Baltic states.

Happy 70th Birthday, Jeni!

Sveikinimas

Happy birthday, Jeni Vilen!

We all wish you endless health, a playful spirit and smiles from all your friends and family on the happy occasion of your birthday!

Mazl tov! May you live to 120!

Exiled to Siberia: Mama Didn’t Have a Kopek

Tremtinys I. Šliomovičius: mama neturėjo nė kapeikos

Text and photo by Daumantė Baranauskaitė manoteises.lt

More than seven decades ago the livestock cars began to leave Kaunas. Four-year-old Iser Shlomovich watched his father growing distant in one of those train cars. Iser, a Jew, his twin brother, sister and mother would all be deported to Siberia, too. When Lithuania was still an independent country, father and mother Shlomovich spoke Yiddish at home but spoke Russian to the children, so they would learn flawless Russian. As later events showed, they bestowed a great gift upon their children. Although most people don’t realize it, Lithuanian Jews were deported along with ethnic Lithuanians in 1941.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Uncomfortable Cinema: The Holocaust

“Nepatogus kinas” – Holokausto tema

bernardinai.lt

The human-rights documentary film festival Nepatogus Kinas [Uncomfortable Cinema] is placibgspecial emphasis this year on the Holocaust. Many directors, film researchers and film historians continue to revisit the theme of historical memory and traumatic experience to this day. A retrospective called “Holocaust: Memory on the Silver Screen” is being organized with the Berlin-based film and video art institute Arsenal to digitize and restore film stock. The retrospective is being presented at Uncomfortable Cinema festival, the first opportunity for viewers in Lithuania to see the restored works. A conversation with film and video art institute Arsenal representative Gesa Knolle on Arsenal’s work and what memory on the silver screen means:

Looking at Lithuania, Germany and all of Europe, anti-Semitism as with any other form of xenophobia or racism is an important topic we need to discuss. How could it happen in 2008 that Jewish partisans were accused of World War II-era war crimes? And no charges have been laid against Lithuanians who collaborated with the Nazi Party? In German as in Lithuania anti-Semitism was widespread in the early 20th century. As Michael McQueen says, there was the aspiration that a “pure” Lithuanian people make up the state, and that was completely incompatible with the existence of the Jewish population in the country. Before the Nazis occupied Lithuania in 1941, the Jewish community in the state was a population of about 210,000 people. More than 95 percent of residents of Jewish origin were murdered during World War II. How was that possible?

Full story in Lithuanian here.

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In New York You Can Register to Vote in Yiddish

voterregister

In further efforts by city’s Board of Elections to expand voter access, registration forms now available for Yiddish-speaking constituents

JTA September 20, 2016

The New York City Board of Elections has made voting registration forms available in Yiddish.

The forms were available starting Monday, according to a statement by state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn democrat.

Hikind, who is Jewish, said he requested in December that the Board of Elections provide the forms in Yiddish.

Press Release

September 20, 2016

Events to mark the Day of Remembrance of Jewish Victims of Genocide in Lithuania and to honor those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust begin this week, running from September 20 to September 28. It begins Tuesday with a volunteer group clean-up of the Jewish cemetery on Sudervės road in Vilnius. On September 21 a tour of Jewish Vilna will be offered, and a screening of the film “Gyvybės ir mirties duobė” [The Pit of Life and Death] will be held at 6 P.M. On September 22 the Israeli vocalist group Adam le Adam will hold a free concert at the square in front of the Old Town Hall in Vilnius at 6 P.M. A monument to commemorate the children who died in the Vilnius ghetto will be unveiled in the Garden of Brothers at the Vilnius Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium. Then a ceremony will be held to commemorate Holocaust victims at the Ponar Memorial Complex outside Vilnius.

The conference “They Rescued Lithuania’s Jews, They Rescued Lithuania’s Honor” will be held at the Lithuanian parliament from 11:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. on September 25, followed by a presentation of the Lithuanian Jewish Community Jewish calendar for the year 5777. The events at parliament mark the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania and the 150th anniversary of the birth of Lithuanian president and Righteous Gentile Kazys Grinius. A ceremony to present awards to rescuers of Jews is scheduled for September 28 at the Lithuanian President’s Office.

“This year this special emphasis on the small towns whose tragedy affected all people living in Lithuania. The mass murder of the Jews of the shtetls has revealed the full dimension of the tragedy,” Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said. “Lithuania is changing, a much braver younger generation is coming of age who take a different view of the history of their nation. The German press has called Lithuania the first state in Eastern Europe to openly raise the question of its own citizens’ complicity in the Holocaust. Lithuania is coming of age; we hope the country sets an example for neighboring states.

“As we remember every year the extremely painful losses we Jews have experienced, we advocate for analyses of the historical facts, what happened, what the Provisional Government of Lithuania did, how the Lithuanian Activist Front behaved. The Lithuanian Jewish Community is not an academic institution, but as much as we are able, with help from the state, without fanfare and sensationalism, we strive to make sense of the facts and circumstances in the Holocaust, and to educate the Lithuanian public on the history of the Jews of Lithuania. Again and again we dive deeper into Lithuanian history trying to understand why and how neighbor could turn on neighbor and murder their innocent, until then peaceful, well-educated and cultured good neighbors, including men, women, children and the elderly. Then stealing their property, and for decades denying they took part in the Holocaust. Forever and ever, but especially today, we remember our honorable fellow citizens, the Lithuanians who rescued Jews,” chairwoman Kukliansky said.

Events program here.

www.lzb.lt