Statue Unveiled in Kaunas to Abraham Mapu, Founder of the Modern Hebrew Novel

A sculpture to honor Abraham Mapu, the founder of the Hebrew novel who was born in Kaunas, was unveiled to the public at a ceremony held in the courtyard of the Ars et Mundus Gallery on Mapu street in Kaunas Thursday evening. Sculptor Martynas Gaubas made the statue commemorating Mapu (1808-1867), who was born and lived in Kaunas and was a beloved local literary figure.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky thanked the Kaunas municipality for its favorable view on commemorating Litvak figures and noted Mapu is known and loved in Israel where even small towns have a street named after him. She praised the Kaunas Jewish Community for its unity and initiative and singled out Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas for his success in cooperation and getting things done.

Chairman Žakas and Olegas Darčanovas, the prime mover behind the statue project, noted the large turnout for the ceremony but also said the statue had begun drawing people into the yard even before the ceremony, with locals and tourists flocking to get a look.

Members of the Kaunas city council Ina Pukelytė and Jonas Audėjaitis spoke of the Litvak contribution to the cultural, economic and social life of Kaunas, Lithuania and the world, and confirmed there would be continued commemoration of notable Litvaks who were born, lived and worked in Kaunas.

Chairman Žakas served as master of ceremonies throughout the event and thanked the musicians Michail Javič, Rokas Makštutis and Milita Songailaitė for the musical accompaniment they provided, KJC board member Motelis Rozenbergas for helping translate inscriptions into Yiddish and Hebrew and everyone who helped with the project. He gave special thanks to initiator Olegas Darčanovas and sculptor Martynas Gaubas for the spirit which they imbued into the sculpture. He said Mapu had returned home to Kaunas.

Thanks also go to the Kaunas city program Iniciatyvos Kaunui and the Goodwill Foundation.

More information in Lithuanian here.