Plaque Commemorating Litvak Designer Victor David Brenner

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A ceremony to unveil a plaque commemorating Litvak and Šiauliai native Victor David Brenner will take place at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, December 14, at the Šiauliai Bank building at Tilžės street no. 149 in Šiauliai.

Victor David Brenner is best known as the designer of the Lincoln one-cent piece in the United States. which replaced the former one-cent piece featuring an Indian in 1909. He also designed the obverse of the new penny, replacing the former wreath and coat of arms with two sheaves of wheat surrounding the words “United States of America” and “ONE CENT.” The “wheat-back” reverse of the penny has since been replaced with one featuring the Lincoln memorial in the center with the same inscription around the edge in 1959. In 1982 the United States began to mint one-cent pieces with reduced copper content, replacing the earlier copper and tin denomination with a copper-plated zinc fac-simile.

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Four Musical Views on a Jewish Theme

remejai

You are invited to attend the launch of the compact disc called Four Musical Views on a Jewish Theme at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius at 6:00 P.M. on December 12. The compact disc is a project by the Lithuanian Union of Musicians, Muzikos Barai magazine and the Goodwill Foundation. Participants are to include composer and president of the Lithuanian Union of Musicians Audronė Žigaitytė-Nekrošienė, pianist and music professor Leonidas Melnikas, violinist Borisas Traubas and cellist Valentinas Kaplūnas.

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The Four Musical Views on a Jewish Theme CD is a unique musical excursion into the tragic 20th-century history of the Jews. Never before had anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews reached such proportions, never before had epiphanies of evil been accompanied by such violence and suffering. Artists were unable to remain silent and their work testifies to, and sometimes screams about these shameful pages of history, condemning evil and exalting good. Four great 20th-century musicians– Maurice Ravel, Darius Milhaud, Aaron Copland and Dmitri Shostakovich—have immortalized this in their work. The tragic passages of Jewish history retold by these artistic geniuses are performed by Lithuanian artists on the compact disc, including singer Liora Grodnikaitė, violinist Boris Traub, cellist Valentinas Kaplūnas and pianist Leonid Melnik. It is an appeal to every individual and to everyone.

Muzikos Barai magazine has made this disc available to readers as a free gift. In their October issue they published an article about those who rescued Jews from the Holocaust in Lithuania.

Antanas Makštutis Concert

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You’re invited to attend a concert by Kaunas Jewish Community member Antanas Makštutis, an accomplished clarinet player. The concert is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. on December 8 at the Gariūniai Business Park’s concert hall.

The event is free but registration is required, please send an email to info@nmgeneration.com

For more information in Lithuanian, see here.

South Africa: Union of Jewish Women Performs Mitzvot in 6 Cities

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November 30, 2016–The Union of Jewish Women gave tangible substance to Mitzvah Day this year by performing mitzvot [good deeds] in six cities in South Africa.

Johannesburg held a blood drive at the Norwood Mall, where 82 pints of blood were collected, a record for such an event, according to the South African National Blood Services. This amount of blood is expected to save 246 lives.

Cape Town’s UJW joined forces with Temple Israel and the Rotary Club and not only provided lunch for the residents of Includid, a state-run institution for adults with mental and physical disabilities, but some of the volunteers also assisted with gardening at the facility, while others painted the interior of one of the houses. All the residents were provided with gifts sponsored by UJW.

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Durban’s Mitzvah Day project was a combined party for the residents of Beth Shalom Retirement Home and the residents of Issy Geshen Home.

East London donated food parcels to indigent families and in addition distributed beautiful knitted beanies and teddies to children in the oncology ward at Frere Hospital. A joint mitzvah between two branches was performed when the Port Elizabeth branch advised East London that a man, going only going by the name of Velapi and whom they had previously assisted with medical help, had moved to East London and was in desperate need of a wheelchair. And so a wheelchair was promptly handed over to the delighted Velapi.

Port Elizabeth held a “Sunshine for Seniors” Mitzvah Day party for the residents of Glenvandale Frail Care Centre, an extremely under-resourced home in an impoverished area. Each resident received lunch as well as a gift.

Pretoria enlisted help from the residents of Jaffa Retirement Home to assist in making sandwiches for the outpatients at the Steve Biko Hospital.

Full story here.

Israeli Booth at Annual Charity Fair in Vilnius

Labdaringos mugės metu Izraelio ambasados stende

The Israeli booth at the annual International Christmas Fair on December 4 at Old Town Hall Square in Vilnius, set up jointly with the Bagel Shop of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, offered passer-by kosher snacks and kosher wine and all types of souvenirs. Young female volunteers from the Bagel Shop Café “manned” the booth and cheerfully explained every item on offer to visitors. The embassy of the State of Israel and the Lithuanian Jewish Community were both very happy with the success of the joint venture and with having the opportunity to contribute to the noble goal of the fair. The Israeli embassy booth took in 1,310.80 euros during the event.

Our deepest gratitude goes out to the volunteers:
Eglė Rimkevičiūtė, Unė Kormilcevaitė, Agota Laurinavičiūtė and Naomi Alon

This fair brings together for charity work annually representatives of the different embassies in Vilnius who present hand-made items for sale to city residents and guests. Thirty-four different countries and a number of communities as well as five international schools in Vilnius are represented traditionally at the winter holiday fair. Income from the Christmas charity fair goes to the coffers of a charity fund which currently supports 10 organizations: The Raseiniai Special-Needs School, the Way of Hope Raseiniai day center, the Vilijampolė social welfare home, the Visaginas social services center, the Overcoming Crises Center, a home for the elderly in Alanta in the Molėtai region, the hospital of the Lithuanian Health Sciences University, the Tautmilės Globa animal shelter, the Family Home of Mother Teresa and the Vilties Namai charity and welfare fund. The International Women’s Association of Vilnius of women from Lithuania and foreign countries who are temporarily living and working in Vilnius stages the International Christmas Charity Fair annually.

Thank You for the Wonderful Organization of Events

Padėka už renginių organizavimą

Recently events held by the Lithuanian Jewish Community have surpassed one another in the quality of organization and the positive emotional interest and participation by Community members have been a source of joy. LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky would like to thank organizers and participants:

“All of your contributions have made the life of Community members more interesting and diverse. We will remember the warm and moving moments we spent together when we all kneaded dough together with our daughters and grand-daughters, with our friends and guests during Sabbath challa-making events at all the communities in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Ukmergė and Šiauliai, all of us joining together for the first time in the global Jewish Shabbos Project. I thank project coordinator Dovilė Rūkaitė, all the heads of the regional Lithuanian Jewish communities and the Bagel Shop cooks who participated together. I also thank the Lithuanian Cultural Council who supported the project.

I would also like to thank the organizers of the Mini-Limmud conference and its main supporters, the European Jewish Fund and the Goodwill Foundation, who supported the preparation of the program and the organization of interesting meetings. The traditional Limmud conference never fails to attract a group of concerned and engaged members of the LJC and their families to its ceremonial Sabbath dinner. It is important for us to come together and talk, to spend time in a pleasant environment, so we always strive to gather on weekends, in a beautiful natural setting at a good hotel, and to invite interesting guests to take part in a meaningful program, see famliar faces and discuss current events. Mini-Limud coordinator Žana Skudovičienė, who fields all preferences and ideas for the conference and balances different interests, insured that this year’s Limmud was memorable and event which provided good emotions and rest and recreation.

Thank you, all of you!

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

Barbed Wire at Synagogue

We’ve received some angry emails about the barbed wire which has appeared on the synagogue fence. The main point seems to be that it’s not aesthetic. Of course it’s not. And it doesn’t fit in with our unique synagogue built in 1903 with its architectural authenticity.

Many students and teachers from Vilnius and Lithuania visit our synagogue. Tourists also visit. This year more than 5,000 guests visited the synagogue.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrates all the traditional Jewish holidays at the synagogue. Our guests also celebrate with us, including foreign ambassadors and members of the Lithuanian Government and members of parliament. We are working actively with public organizations in the European Union which are involved in insuring the security of Jewish communities around the world. The security system at the Vilnius Choral Synagogue was set up based on their recommendations and continues to be improved. In Europe armed professional security service personnel guard synagogues.

Because of security concerns, we are asking everyone to adhere to rules for visitors at the Choral Synagogue, which are posted in three languages on the LJC website, lzb.lt, and will be posted at the synagogue in a visible location.

Concerning the barbed wire, we thought about it deeply, and of course we don’t like it, but we decided the most important consideration is safety. For that reason this quick and inexpensive temporary solution was adopted. At the same time, plans for a new fence are being drafted, one that doesn’t clash with integrity of the architectural style but does meet security requirements. The project will be a prolonged process, because we must ask permission from and harmonize the project with the Cultural Heritage Department to remove the old fence and build a new one. We hope to complete it next summer. We are in charge of the synagogue and we are concerned for the safety of worshipers and guests, and we don’t want events to repeat here in Vilnius which have occurred elsewhere. Here are some examples.

In Copenhagen a killer attempted to gain access to a Jewish event with about 80 participants, mainly children. No one knows what would have happened if not for the man who sacrificed his own life to stop the killer.

Over one week last July there were eight attacks on synagogues in Paris. In the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, a crowd of 400 watched as one synagogue was fire-bombed.

During the attacks in Paris a kosher food market was heavily damaged and looted, as was a pharmacy. There were signs with the inscriptions “Death to Jews” and “Cut the throats of the Jews.”

A synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, which had been rebuilt after being destroyed in Nazi Germany’s Kristallnacht in 1938, was attacked with Molotov cocktails.

In Mumbai (Bombay) in 2008 a group of terrorists walked through the city shooting people in cafés and hotels as they made their way to the Chabad Lubavich Center, where they killed the young rabbi and his pregnant wife.

Once I was flying back from Israel to Vilnius, and my fellow passenger complained the entire trip about how security checks at Ben-Gurion International Airport were an affront to his human dignity. No argument could convince him that it was for his own safety. So we apologize to those who are offended by the barbed-wire fence. I know no arguments will convince them that this is for your own security, just as my fellow passenger on the airplane could not be convinced.

Simas Levinas, chairman
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community

Exercise in Democracy, or Futility?

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by Geoff Vasil

The “discussion” organized by the Vilnius city council on November 29 on whether to change an earlier decision to name a street after a Lithuanian Nazi leader in the center of Vilnius was an unmitigated disaster.

In fact, there was no evidence the Vilnius municipality organized anything at all. The main force and the only real announcer of the event was Vilnius City Council member Mark Adam Harold, aka Mark Splinter, a British expatriate who has been trying to get the street renamed to no effect for some time. Harold himself denied he was the organizer, but he was the main speaker and spoke bravely and forthrightly in favor of changing the street name.

The whole point seemed to me to be to shame Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius with media attention into relinquishing his blocking the proposed change. Unfortunately only scant and local media attention was shed, the event having been all but suppressed until one day before it happened, leaving interested parties believing they had been excluded from the supposedly public forum.

Readers will recall mayor Remigijus Šimašius promised in writing to specify a location in Vilnius by October 20, 2016, for erecting a monument to Holocaust rescuers. No such site has been named to date. Instead the Vilnius municipal body claims work is going forward behind the scenes on creating the actual monument. One assumes they will place it in a dark forest far from public sight, as things stand now, sometime in the summer of 2047.

Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky’s Statement on Renaming Kazys Škirpa Alley in Vilnius

Because of the short notice given, the Lithuanian Jewish Community was unable to send a speaker to the Vilnius municipality’s discussion renaming Kazys Škirpa Alley held in Vilnius on November 29. Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky sent a statement which was read out loud at the discussion which follows.

The discussion initiated by the municipality of Vilnius being held today, “Should We Change the Name of Kazys Škirpa Alley?,” might have been called something else. Why not ask the citizens of Lithuania if they want to have public spaces in Vilnius named after suspected Holocaust perpetrators instead?

On the one hand, the very concept of the discussion appears strange. Does Lithuania have no one of whom to be proud, so that we can only lionize a person famous for his anti-Semitic statements, his vision of a Lithuania free of Jews and his idealization of Hitler’s Germany?

On the other hand, for most of society Kazys Škirpa doesn’t signify much, and the forum being held should theoretically at least shed some light on different aspects of his personality. Hopefully historians unafraid to express their positions and not subservient to the right-wing have been invited to participate. Were state institutions which use the word “Jew” in their titles invited to participate? Probably not.

When we marked the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust in Lithuania, there was a conference at the parliament where the historian A. Kasparavičius said all of the “power” in the Provisional Government of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Activist Front was in Škirpa’s hands. The historian noted Škirpa made no attempt to hide his enchantment with Germany and spent more than 10 years there, working as consul and later as military attaché. It was during this period, between 1933 and 1934, when Škirpa’s documents sent from Berlin to Kaunas show how enthralled he was with the policies being carried out by Germany. “He had many problems because of this. President Antanas Smetona even raised the question of relieving K. Škirpa from diplomatic service at the end of the winter in 1939,” Kasparavičius said. But Škirpa wasn’t fired. He created the Activist Front in Berlin. Members of the Front sought to liberate Lithuania from Soviet occupation and organized the uprising in 1941. They foresaw a free Lithuania without Jews. It was Škirpa’s idea to create the Tautinio darbo apsaugos batalionas [TDA, National Labor Security Battalion] who shot thousands of Jews without trial at the Seventh Fort in Kaunas.

After the Soviets occupied Vilnius in 1940, Kazys Škirpa organized the nucleus of the Lithuanian Activist Front in Berlin. LAF propaganda followed official fascist propaganda, which led to Lithuanians’ active involvement in perpetrating the Holocaust. He was named [Lithuanian] prime minister in the uprising of June 23, 1941. In accepting the post of prime minister, Škirpa included in his government Rapolas Skipitis and Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis. His government included 11 ministers: 4 from Vilnius (Vytautas Bulvičius, Vladas Nasevičius, Vytautas Statkus, Jonas Masiliūnas), 6 from Kaunas (Juozas Ambrazevičius, Jonas Matulionis, Adolfas Damušis, Balys Vitkus, Juozas Pajaujis, Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis), resident of Berlin Rapolas Skipitis, plus comptroller Pranas Vainauskas. [Prevented from leaving Berlin, his minister Juozas Ambrazevičius was appointed acting prime minister in Kaunas.]

The position of the Lithuanian Jewish Community regarding the question posed by the discussion is clear: the name of Kazys Škirpa Alley must be changed. If only to honor all Lithuanian citizens.

As this discussion takes place, the Lithuanian Jewish Community yet again reminds readers there is still no monument to rescuers of Jews, to Righteous Gentiles, in Vilnius. Neither are there public places in the city named after famous Litvaks who contributed to establishing Lithuanian statehood and strengthening democratic institutions. Lithuanian history textbooks still make no mention of 600 years of shared Lithuanian and Litvak history. What sort of priorities is the Lithuanian state setting for itself?

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman

Rimvydas Valatka on Changing the Name of Škirpa Alley

Rimvydas Valatka on changing name of Škirpos alley

Stupidity so bravely jumps upon the soap-box in Lithuania now that there is nothing left to be surprised at, except perhaps that there are people still surprised at stupidity. But there are worse things than stupidity. This happens when politicians instead of making a decision attempt to hide cowardly behind political discussions.

This happened in Vilnius yesterday when the city municipality held a discussion called “Should We Change the Name of Kazys Škirpa Alley?” The municipality announced the discussion was being held because “arguments have arisen in society about the name of Škirpa Alley.”

What can this sort of political discussion change, except that Lithuania as a European state will attract greater shame? Do we really need to discuss whether only an anti-Semite who personally shot innocent people is bad or whether those who inspired him to the act might also be bad, in the 21st century in Vilnius, on whose city limits is the Ponar mass grave where all the Jews of the city were shot?

It’s beyond absurd to hold this sort of political discussion. Colonel Kazys Škirpa began his career as a hero, he was the first volunteer soldier, and later became ambassador to Berlin. Kazys Škirpa would have remain a hero forever if he hadn’t been the leader [sic, founder] of the anti-Semitic Lithuanian Activist Front which called for the murder of Jews.

No political discussion can deny this fact. As with other facts in our painful 20th century history.

Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius instead of making a decision to change the name of the street is hiding behind a political discussion by several people especially selected by the city. This draws 21st century Lithuania into yet another shameful conflict. With our own history just as much with the values which Lithuania adopted entering the European Union and NATO.

Commentary broadcast on Lithuanian National Radio.

For Your Freedom and Ours?

by Sergejus Kanovičius

For our freedom and yours, we heard this motto during the independence movement in 1990 inviting everyone–Lithuanians, us Jews, and others–to rally to fight for independence. And we rallied, believing that in that Lithuania–the Lithuania of today–we would all be equal, and not just before God. We thought we’d be equal before memory, and before our history. As brothers and sisters. Are we equal in memory? Are we equal before history?

What about today, when discussion has come up whether it is worth honoring with a street name a volunteer soldier who fought for Lithuanian independence, the first to raise the tricolor on the castle tower almost a century ago, a man who commanded a different sort of movement, one which systematically and openly called for freedom only for some, before and after the June Uprising.

His ideology and that of his organization, the Lithuanian Activist Front, was inseparable from that of the battle for independence. For independence without Jews–without me, without my father, my grandparents and of those for whom there are annual bureaucratic gatherings to feel ashamed beside the larger pits, or beside those for whom the television cameras await.

Remove Indecent Monuments of a Painful Past

by Robert van Voren

In the summer of 2015 Vilnius municipality removed four Soviet statutes on the Green Bridge linking the suburb Šnipiskes with the city center. The statutes represented farmers, students, industrial workers and “defenders of peace”, depicting Soviet soldiers who liberated the city from the Nazis in 1944 and subsequently imposed the second Soviet occupation. The statutes were a prime example of Soviet realism and for Soviet standards quite innocent: there was little heroism to be seen, no images of political leaders like Lenin or Stalin, just examples of four classes of Soviet citizens being part of Soviet life. Yet for Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius they depicted a lie and for that reason should not be retained: “The statues represent a lie. Their heroic portrayal of the Soviet people – that is all a lie … The statues are a mockery of the real people who had to live during the Soviet period.”

I remember some 6-7 years ago an exhibition of Soviet design was held in one of Vilnius’ museums. My stepson was then a young adolescent, and walked around in a world that had ceased to be and images of which had almost disappeared from every day life. A brand new Moskvich was standing in one of the halls, household tools that were dysfunctional yet in a strange way beautiful, and in one corner a television screen showed a clip of residents receiving their brand new flats in Fabioniškės. People were smiling, dancing, happily receiving their key and entering the flat for the first time. “That is all fake, right?” my son asked, “of course they were not happy, they are acting.”

The fact is that people were happy, very happy even, finally being able to move in a brand new flat, often coming from a noisy crammed kommunalka, and have their own private environment. What is a lie is to pretend that people were not happy. Soviet life was maybe much more grey than life in an open society based on the rule of law, but millions of Lithuanians led happy lives, even if alone because they knew no other.

Vilnius City Council Seeks Public Comment on Street Named after Holocaust Perp

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Vilnius City Council member Mark Adam Harold is part of a municipal event at the Vilnius Old Town Hall for Tuesday, November 29, 2016, to seek public comment on a proposal to rename the street named after Lithuanian Holocaust collaborator and chief of the Lithuanian Activist Front based in Berlin in 1941, Kazys Škirpa.

Harold’s facebook page contains the instructions: “If you would like the opportunity to speak during the public forum at Rotušė, Didzioji g. 31, on November 29th at 18:00, please tick this box. The first twenty applicants will be given one minute each from the podium.”

A separate post by a South African Litvak living in the United States contains more detail:

“220,000 Lithuanian Jews were murdered at the instigation of Škirpa and his cronies. The country of Lithuania is littered with honors for Škirpa, and for other murderers of Jews. Multi-year efforts to have a main Street in Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius, currently named named to honor the Škirpa, is now culminating in public hearings by the Vilnius City Council.

“The Vilnius City Council was unable to decide for themselves if honoring Jew murderers is appropriate.

“Here is a link to a comment form where you can provide your opinion to the Vilnius City Council. It is in English, you just need to answer and hit submit. Please try to be somewhat respectful:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSddIXIxTDEj5He6Qjh4pv_KjB1X1KlNlmOww9S76IF3Nr7fbA/viewform?c=0&w=1

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The event is advertised as a discussion with Vytautas Landsbergis, Sergey Kanovich, Darius Udrys, Lithuanian historians and others. Public comment will be sought afterwards. Conspicuously absent from the speakers’ roster: any representative of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the International Commission on Assessing the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania or even Vilnius mayor Remgijus Šimašius, who hasn’t kept his earlier commitments in writing to name a site in Vilnius by October 20 for erecting a statue to commemorate the heroes of World War II in Lithuania, those who rescued Jews. The Lithuanian Jewish Community is to issue a statement to be read out loud at the event.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites members of the public and representatives of interested institutions to submit their comments per the form linked above and to attend the event.

More event information here.

priemimas-pas-hitleri-1939-0421-k100Škirpa with Hitler celebrating the latter’s 50th birthday

April 21, 1939

An Unusual Story of Jewish Rescue

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The Vilnius-based publishing house Kitos Knygos is planning to publish in Lithuanian a book by Yochanan Fein called Berniukas su smuiku [Boy with a Violin]. Kitos Knygos has posted the following about the book on their website:

Yochanan Fein: Boy with a Violin
History, memoirs; 2017
translated by Ina Preiskel (Finkelšteinaitė) and Arvydas Sabonis

In the distant Kaunas neighborhood of Panemunė on the high banks of the Nemunas there once there stood a large wooden house with a stairwell inside. It was built by Lithuanian military volunteer and Šančiai railroad carpenter Jonas Paulavičius, who was called behind his back “father of the Jews” during World War II, having rescued 16 people from the clutches of death. He and his wife Antanina were recognized as Righteous Gentiles because of their heroic acts.

Among the fortunate was 14-year-old Yochanan Fein, who knew how to play violin, hiding in a pit dug in the garden together with a Russian POW and an Orthodox Jew. In his dotage he wrote a book of memoirs called “Boy with Violin” in which he explained the tragic stories of the lives of those rescued and presented an authentic painting of wartime and post-war Kaunas in many colorful details. The book was first published in Amsterdam in 2006 and two years later in Tel Aviv.

The author manages to avoid tired clichés about the confrontation of good and evil usually found in such books. Here the rescuers are not lionized, neither are the murderers demonized. Even the picture of Jonas Paulavičius is complicated, but his Communist views didn’t stop him from rescuing Jews from the Stalinist regime, either.

The book is valuable from the historical perspective as well. Fain doesn’t limit his story to the weary life in the Kaunas ghetto from 1941 to 1944; he also writes about the ruined city after the war from 1944 to 1947, and the third section is unique: there are  no authentic stories in the Lithuanian language about Jewish immigration out of Lithuania after 1944.

Yochanan Fein’s book Berniukas su smuiku will be published by the Kitos Knygos publishing house in the near future.

Full announcement in Lithuanian here.

More information about the Hebrew edition here.

LJC and Dalia Kutkaitė Artistic Gymnastics Academy Invite Girls to Gymnastics Class

Dear girls and parents,

We are pleased to announce the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Dalia Kutkaitė Artistic Gymnastics Academy are holding girls’ gymnastics classes! Girls aged 5 to 6 are invited to attend and learn this graceful and charming sport. Gymnastics activities are to begin at 3:00 P.M. on December 2. The class lasts one hour.

Equipment needed: tight shirts, tight tights and white stockings. You will also need a warm sweater (because the hall is cool). Hair should be worn tied on top of the head so it doesn’t interfere.

Please register: natalijade@gmail.com

On Removal of the Plaque Commemorating Jonas Noreika

November 11, 2016
No. 367

To: Mayor Remigijus Šimašius
Vilnius Municipal Administration

On Removal of the Plaque Commemorating Jonas Noreika
November 11, 2016
Vilnius

Currently there is a commemorative plaque on display on the façade of the library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences building located at Žygmantų street no. 1/8 in Vilnius dedicated to the dubious fame of Jonas Noreika, [also] known by the pseudonym General Vėtra. Information has reached us the plaque commemorating this person on the building at Žygmantų street no. 1/8 possibly was put up illegally, without required permission from the municipality of the city of Vilnius, and possibly in violation of the requirements of other laws as well. Please provide the Lithuanian Jewish Community with all documentation related to installation of the aforementioned commemorative plaque.

The honoring by commemorative plaque of this person with his undisputed role in committing genocide against citizens of Lithuania doesn’t make sense to the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

For information on and a copy of the order signed by Jonas Noreika seizing the property of Jews, please see http://www.anarchija.lt/component/content/article/81-istorija/38185-kodel-jonas-noreika-generolas-vetra-paskelbtas-vidvyriu and http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Will-Lithuania-continue-to-honor-Nazi-collaborators-412701

The municipality of the city of Vilnius needs to take a look at article 170 of the criminal code of the Republic of Lithuania (incitement against any national, racial, ethnic, religious or other group of people) in which section 2 defines as a criminal act the mockery, belittlement, encouragement to hate or incitement to discriminate against a group of people or a member of that group based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, language, origins, social status, religious belief or personal convictions and views.

The installation of a plaque commemorating Jonas Noreika in the city of Vilnius is wholly understood by the Lithuanian Jewish Community as a public mockery of the group of Lithuanian citizens who suffered the most during World War II, the Jews of Lithuania.

Please take measures quickly for the removal of the possibly illegal plaque from the building in Vilnius which commemorates Jonas Noreika and which publicly mocks the Jewish people.

[signed] Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

Death of Daniel Dolski Marked in Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community marked the 85th anniversary of the death of Daniel Dolski (stage name of Daniel or Donil Broides), one of the founders of the genre known as “estrada music” in Eastern Europe, popular and sometimes humorous schlager-style songs performed on stage. Iser Shreiberg, the chairman of the Kaunas Hassidic Synagogue Religious Community and a member of the Kaunas Jewish Community, said a prayer for the dead at Dolski’s grave in the Jewish cemetery in the Žaliakalnis neighborhood of Kaunas. Those who turned out for the commemoration recalled the Kaunas Jewish Community had tended the grave of the performer.

Birthdays in December

LŽB 2016m. gruodžio mėnesio jubiliatai

Vilnius Jewish Community

Etia Suvorova (December 2)

German Levin (1 December 9)

Ale Šimulynienė (December 10)

Dora Mesengiser (December 17)

Anastazija Votrinienė (December 18)

Saida Mazuro (December 22)

Olga Orlovskaja (December 26)

Palina Pailis (December 26)

Kaunas Jewish Community

Ženė Živulinskienė (December 1)

Borisas Jocheles (December 3)

Rema Lorman (December 5)

Mark Harold: Arguments, Counter-Arguments and Facts on Škirpa Alley

markas-haroldas

by Mark Harold, Vilnius City Council member
15 min.lt

Let us begin with my argument, which is very simple and against which my opponents have counter-arguments. One short paragraph:

Kazys Škirpa led the LAF. Current competent institutions of the Republic of Lithuania recognize the LAF was an anti-Semitic organization. Therefore, naming a street after the leader of this sort of organization in Vilnius, where the Holocaust was especially brutal, within the European Union in 2016 is inappropriate. Now more laconically I will analyze each attempt to argue against this, which I have encountered over recent days, and will explain why these counter-arguments are invalid.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

New Book about Sugihara by Lithuanian in Japanese

lzinios.lt

Next year a new book about Chiune Sugihara, Japanese consul in Lithuania and rescuer of thousands of Jews, is scheduled to be published in Japan. The author is Dr. Simonas Strelcovas, historian and professor at Šiauliai University in Lithuania who researched the hero at Japanese archives and only recently returned home. The book is to appear in Japanese.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Plaque Commemorating Lithuanian Ping Pong Championship Unveiled in Kaunas

Kaune atidengta atminimo lenta pirmosioms Lietuvos stalo teniso pirmenybėms, organizuotoms “Makabi”

A plaque has been unveiled on the western façade of the A. Martinaitis Art School at Šv. Gertrūdos street no. 33 in Kaunas with the inscription: “In this building the first Lithuanian table tennis championships took place organized by the athletics club Makabi.”

Lithuanian Table Tennis Association director Rimgaudas Balaiša said at the unveiling ceremony Kaunas was the cradle of table tennis in Lithuania. Young people imported the game from abroad and by 1922 Kaunas began to see its first enthusiasts. In 1925 the first ping pong tournaments were held in Lithuania. A year later the Ping Pong Committee was established in the Lithuanian Athletics League. And here on March 12 to 13, 1927, the Makabi Club decided to hold the Lithuanian Ping Pong Championship. Makabi was the pioneer in this historic activity.

The Jewish Makabi Club was established on October 19, 1920 in Lithuania. It was the most affluent of any ethnic minority sports organization. The winners in the ping pong championship they held were Ona Gurvičaitė and Josifas Šimensas.

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Fayerlakh Birthday Concert

Celebrating their 45th birthday, the Jewish song and dance group Fayerlakh is inviting everyone to a concert at the Vilnius Polish House of Culture (Naugarduko street no. 76, Vilnius) at 5:00 P.M. on Sunday, December 18. The concert will feature Jewish dance, Yiddish songs and a group of klezmer musicians.

The ensemble is constituted of over 40 members and the youngest Fayerlakh member is just 5 years old. The oldest is now almost 70. Although times change, Fayerlakh stands as an unextinguished flame, formed way back in 1971.

Tickets just 8 euros for Jewish Community members!
Get your tickets by internet here: http://www.tiketa.lt/jubiliejinis_koncertas_fajerlech__45_75662

Jewish Soldiers of Lithuania Commemorated in Kaunas

Lietuvos karių- žydų pagerbimas Žaliakalnio žydų kapinėse

On November 23, in celebration of Lithuanian Military Day, long-time friend of the Kaunas Jewish Community Raimundas Kaminskas and the Kaunas Council of Lithuanian Sąjūdis held a commemoration of Lithuanian Jewish soldiers at the Jewish cemetery in the Žaliakalnis neighborhood of Kaunas. On November 23, 1918, Lithuanian prime minister professor Augustinas Voldemaras signed Decree No. 1, establishing the Defense Council and the first regiment of the Lithuanian military. The Lithuanian military was officially re-established on that day.

Lithuania and Israel: Past, Present, Future

Lietuvos ambasados Izraelio Valstybėje bei Lietuvos URM surengta konferencija „Lietuva ir Izraelis: Praeitis, Dabartis, Ateitis“

The Lithuanian embassy to Israel and the Lithuanian Foreign Minister held a conference called Lithuania and Israel: Past, Present, Future at the Peres Peace Center in Tel Aviv on November 24, 2016. The conference discussed Lithuanian Holocaust studies, progress in commemorating victims, current activities of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and Lithuanian citizenship restoration issues.

Lithuanian ambassador to Israel Edminas Bagdonas spoke about increasing partnership between the two countries in his opening speech. He noted Litvaks in both countries are making great contributions to this. Lithuanian ambassador-at-large Dainius Junevičius emphasized the change in attitude towards the country’s history by the public and especially young people. Ronaldas Račinskas, executive director of Lithuania’s International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania, spoke about progress in Lithuanian Holocaust research and commemoration. Vytautas Magnus University lecturer Robert van Voren presented his studies into the Holocaust in Lithuania and spoke about parallels between Lithuania and the Netherlands. Yad Vashem representative Dr. Arkadi Zeltser addressed the state of monuments for commemorating Holocaust victims in Lithuania. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky provided an overview of the current situation and activities of the community. She also field a large number of questions from the audience about the Litvak legacy and heritage in Lithuania.

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Makabi Fall Tennis Tournament 2016

LSK „Makabi“ rudens teniso turnyras 2016

The fall tennis tournament of the Makabi Lithuanian athletics club was held November 27 at SEB Arena in Vilnius, with 10 athletes (7 male, 3 female). The matches were held with a minus 2 handicap. Danielius Merkinas was the overall winner. In the women’s group promising young professional tennis player Alisa Gaivaronskytė took first place. Valentina Finkelšteinienė and Tatjana Podkolzina took second and third in the women’s.

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In the men’s, the brothers Kęstas and Norbertas Faktorovičius took third. The best player among veterans was Grigorij Khiterer, followed closely by Faktorovičius and Eduardas Gurvičius. All contestants received participation prizes and the women got flowers as well. The awards ceremony and dinner followed the competition.

Condolences

Ana Brodskaja, a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community, passed away on November 27. She was born October 14, 1934. We send our condolences to her friends and family.

US Embassy Reps Visit Kaunas

Kaune viešėjo Amerikos ambasados Lietuvoje atstovai

Two weeks ago representatives from the United States embassy in Vilnius visited Kaunas. They toured the Seventh Fort and met at the Sugihara House museum with Sugihara Foundation founders Ramūnas Garbaravičius and Egidijus Aleksandravičius, Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas and reporter Birutė Garbaravičienė. Ted Janis of the American embassy expressed satisfaction the Kaunas and Lithuanian Jewish Communities, the Kaunas municipality, the Seventh Fort collective and Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon had combined forces to commemorate the Holocaust victims of the Seventh Fort at the mass grave site. They also spoke about the situation regarding Holocaust education in Lithuania, the importance of the Sugihara museum and Jewish life in Kaunas.

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Cyclopedia on Holocaust in Žemaitija Published

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Aleksandras Vitkus, Chaim Bargman. Holokaustas Žemaitijoje. – Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijos institutas, 2016. – 488 p.

The book’s authors go into fine detail in their descriptions of the mass murders in Žemaitija (the historical Samogitia, western Lithuania), having collected testimonies from witnesses several years ago. Žemaitija is composed of 6 districts plus the Klaipėda region (historical Memel). They collected information about Kretinga (12 rural districts), Mažeikiai (8 rural districts), Raseiniai (12 rural districts), Tauragė (13 rural districts), Telšiai (9 rural districts) apskritis, the western section of the Šiauliai district (10 rural districts) and the Klaipėda region. The cyclopedia includes about 70 locations where mass murders took place and monuments now stand.

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