Bagel shop

Come Make Challa with Us

The Shabbos Project has been called a Jewish spring, a global social phenomenon and an incredible experience.

Last year 6,000 volunteers in 95 countries and 1,152 cities organized challa-making events during a single Sabbath, events which included over 8,000 women and participants speaking more than 10 different languages in Buenos Aires, and five city blocks in Los Angeles were closed to traffic for setting up cooking tables in the streets. In Melbourne 10,000 people attended the havdala concert and the event generated 61,884,223 images posted on the internet.

We’re inviting everyone to the Lithuanian Jewish Community at 6:00 P.M. on October 26 for an evening of challa-making and baking. Challa is the traditional bread served at Sabbath dinner. Please register here.

Save the Date: International Conference #RememberanceResponsibilityFuture

Save the Date: International Conference #RememberanceResponsibilityFuture

Introduction

Dovilė Budrytė, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science
Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia, USA

Writing about memory in Eastern Europe, Alexander Etkind observed in his book Warped Mourning that various groups are likely to cultivate different versions of the past, define their friends and foes, thus creating separate memory communities that are likely to engage in memory wars.  Etkind’s observation raises several fundamental questions about historical memory in Eastern Europe:  Can a major historical trauma start uniting various groups to combat current expressions of prejudice and violence?  How should major historical traumas be commemorated so that memory wars are avoided?  Are there proper ways to remember horrendous events to make sure that history does not repeat itself?

Come Learn about Jewish Fall Holidays

Žydų rudens šventės – kviečiame į paskaitą

Sukkot, or Sukkos, is the feast of tabernacles, meaning tents.
Simchat Torah, or Simkhas Torah, is a celebration of the Torah.

Description:
The Lithuanian Jewish Community and educator Natalja Cheifec invite you to a lesson where you’ll learn:

Why Jews must dwell in these booths made especially for Sukkot
When sins become good deeds
What the requirement of the four species means
Why Simchat Torah is the holiday of rejoicing in the Torah
Why Jews are not only allowed but required to drink during Simchat Torah

and many additional interesting facts. Students will also receive a small gift.

Register here:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1oN-Nj3-EYpdg2xFAl82GJPeWLxqhzyomQ6e6JdEZ9OQ/edit

We meet at 2:00 P.M. on October 8 at the entrance to the Bagel Shop Café located at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius.

Rosh Hashana at the Choral Synagogue

LJC members and guests gathered to celebrate the eve of Rosh Hashana at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius Wednesday, September 20. The celebration kicked off with Yiddish songs. Famous Lithuanian musician, organ player, pianist and vocalist Vitalijus Neugasimovas sang. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas delivered New Year’s greetings.

LJC calendars for 5778 were passed out and celebrants sampled traditional Rosh Hashana foods from the Bagel Shop Café. Services began after the sumptuous treats.

LJC Rosh Hashana with Community and Guests

The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated the eve of Rosh Hashana with traditional dishes and a party at the Community. Community members and guests were feted with delicacies supplied by the chefs at the Bagel Shop Café and were given new calendars for 5778 featuring the synagogues and especially historic wooden synagogues of Lithuania.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky welcomed audience and expressed good wishes for the coming year, and Israel’s ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon spoke about Rosh Hashana traditions unchanged over centuries. Israeli honorary consul in Lithuania professor Vladas Bumelis, Lithuanian MPs Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė and Irena Šiaulienė and guests from Israel celebrated together. Natalija Heifetz, a guide at the Choral Synagogue, delivered a family heirloom, the shofar horn, blown on Rosh Hashana.

Inter-Institutional Cooperation for the Preservation of Lithuanian Jewish Heritage

A paper delivered by Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky at the conference “Diaspora and Heritage: The Shtetl” held to mark the European Day of Jewish Culture and the Lithuanian Day of Remembrance of Jewish Victims of Genocide at the Lithuanian parliament on September 25, 2017.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Jewish Heritage Today

According to the census of 2011, there are 3,050 Jews living in Lithuania. Other sources say the number is up to 5,000 Jews, of whom 2,000 live in the city of Vilnius. For comparison, in the mid-19th century there were 250,000 Jews living in what is now the territory of Lithuania. Lithuania lost more than 90% of her Jewish community in the Holocaust.

Today Lithuanian Jews are united in 28 non-governmental organizations which are in turn united in the association the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Heritage, although it is very important, is only one of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s areas of endeavor. The Lithuanian Jewish Community is actively working in providing constant social support to Community members in seven regions of Lithuania, organizes educational programs, keeps alive the memory of Holocaust victims, is carrying out various project activities and is engaged in human rights advocacy.

Returning to the topic of heritage, Litvak heritage means relics of the cultural landscape created over more than 600 years by the community which once reached a quarter million people, spread throughout almost all the cities and towns in Lithuania today. This includes almost 200 cemeteries, more than 200 mass murder/mass grave sites and more than 40 synagogues which have been declared cultural treasures.

The Need for and Experience in Cooperation

The current, post-Holocaust Lithuanian Jewish Community would never be able to guard and conserve that which has been created over centuries throughout the country without the help of governmental and municipal institutions, NGOs and active citizens.

Thank You

A week has passed during which Lithuanian remembered her shtetlakh. The fourteenth celebration of the annual European Day of Jewish Culture has taken place in Lithuania, this year with the theme “Diaspora and Heritage: The Shtetlakh.” Lithuanian towns which used to be called shtetlakh hosted events, tours of surviving old towns and Jewish residential sections, interesting talks on the former life of Litvaks there. The word shtetl was heard much in Lithuania after the Holocaust, with the loss of the former Litvak world and the Yiddish language.

This year the European Day of Jewish Culture was observed in more than 20 towns and cities, including Alytus, Jurbarkas, from Kaunas to Žasliai and Žiežmariai, Kelmė, Klaipėda, Kretinga, Molėtai, Palanga, Pakruojis, Pandėlys, Pasvalys, Pikeliai, Šiauliai, Šilalė, Jonava, Joniškis, Kupiškis, Darbėnai, Šeduva, Švėkšna, Ukmergė, Zarasai and Želva.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community thanks all the participating cities and towns for remembering the shtetlakh and the Jews who lived, traded, created and built there. They deserve to be remembered. Many cities and towns held lectures, conferences, exhibits, concerts and film screenings this year.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky also thanks the organizers of the events at the Jewish Community for their interesting program, and thanks the participants and speakers who spoke about the remaining traces of the shtetlakh in Lithuania. We thank Fania Brancovskaja, Vytautas Toleikis, Sandra Petrukonytė, Ilona Šedienė, Rimantas Vanagas and Antanas Žilinskas not just for their interesting presentations, but also for their own work, books and research on Jewish history, contributing to making the shtetlakh part of the heart of our country, without which Lithuania is impossible to imagine.

Thank you also to the Bagel Shop Café for the tasty Jewish dishes, the Sabbath ceramics exhibit and the holiday atmosphere, and to the Fayerlakh ensemble for the wonderful concert!

Our sincere thanks to everyone.

Lithuanian Shtetlakh: European Day of Jewish Culture Celebration September 3 at LJC

Press release

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites the public to attend an event dedicated to the Jewish shtetls of Lithuania to commemorate and remember together this period of Lithuanian history, interesting and dear to us but cut short by the Holocaust and which has become a subject of academic interest and heritage protection.

The theme of this year’s European Day of Jewish Culture on September 3 as confirmed by the Cultural Heritage Department to the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture is “The Diaspora and Heritage: The Shtetl.” This is an intentional, mature and topical choice for a country where the life of the largest ethnic and confessional minority, of the Jews, thrived namely in the Lithuanian shtetlakh until 1941.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will host an event called “Shtetlakh of Lithuania” on the third floor of the community building at Pylimo street no. 4 on September 3 to celebrate the European Day of Jewish Culture in 2017.

The event will kick off with a bagel breakfast and a presentation and tasting of authentic Jewish recipes at the Bagel Shop Café on the first floor at 9:00 A.M. Following that everyone is invited to attend a short Yiddish language lesson. A brunch awaits the graduates at the Bagel Shop Café. At 2:00 P.M. guest speakers will begin delivering free public lectures on the shtetlakh of Aniksht (Anykščiai), Eishishyok (Eišiškės), Sheduva (Šeduva) and Vilkovishk (Vilkaviškis) and what remains of them. A challa-baking lesson and presentation of the Bagel Shop Café’s new ceramics collection begins at 4:00 P.M. The Jewish song and dance ensemble Fayerlakh will perform a concert at 6:00 P.M.

The Rakija Klezmer Orkestar will also perform a concert at 3:00 P.M. in the Šnipiškės neighborhood of Vilnius.

More information available here.

“The reality in Lithuania is that If you want to learn more about the material and immaterial cultural heritage of a given town in Lithuanian (including the architectural features and aura of buildings, demographic changes and consequent changes in the structure of the town, changes in political structure and the ensuing canonization of ideologized development patterns), you will, unavoidably, run into the word ‘shtetl.’ You will find no better opportunity to understand what this is and to discover the shtetl in the features of buildings still standing in the towns than the events for the European Day of Jewish Culture on September 3,” director of the Cultural Heritage Department Diana Varnaitė said.

The word shtetl is an old Yiddish diminutive for shtot, city, meaning town. The towns of Lithuania where Jews comprised half or the majority of the population, characterized by Litvak energy and the bustle of commercial activity, are often called shtetlakh, the plural of shtetl. It’s thought shtetls evolved into their modern form in the 18th century. Malat, Kupeshok, Zosle, Olkenik, Svintsyan, Vilkomir, Gruzd, Eishyshok, Utyan–these are just a few of the surviving Lithuanian towns.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky recalls her parents’ shtetl:

“We didn’t travel to my grandparents’ village in the summer. We didn’t have any ebcause they were murdered in the Holocaust, or had moved from their shtetlakh to Vilnius or Kaunas because they could no longer live there without their loved ones and friends lying in the pits together with the bodies and souls of the other unfortunates.

“The Kuklianskys who survived, however, my father, my uncle who hid in trenches from the Nazis near the shtetl of Sventiyansk, were rescued by local village people, but for their entire lives longed for their home on the banks of the Ančia River in Veisiejai, Lithuania. There was no place happier or more beautiful than their native shtetl. Perhaps because their mother hadn’t been murdered yet.

“The eyes of my mother, who was born in Keydan (Kėdainiai) and spent her childhood in Shavl (Šiauliai), her eyes used to just shine when she remembered how they used to go to the ‘spa town’ of Pagelava near Shavl in horse-drawn cart.

“The shtetls… are no more. Now there are cities and towns, but they have no rabbis, no yeshivas, synagogues or Jews… all that remains is love for the place of one’s birth, but love is stronger than hate. The memories remain, too, and without them we wouldn’t be commemorating the shtetls and their inhabitants.”

Those who seek to find the traces of the lost and concealed presence of the Jews only have to find their way to the center of a Lithuanian town, to the old town, where the red-brick buildings still stand. All of the old towns of the small towns were built by Jews. The same goes for the former synagogues, schools, pharmacies and hospitals.

Cultural heritage experts tell us market day and the Sabbath were the main events of the week in the Lithuanian towns. Both were observed. After the Holocaust the shtetlakh were empty, the Jewish homes stood empty even if they still contained family heirlooms and the items acquired over lifetimes. Non-Jewish neighbors often moved into these houses and took over the property. Now no one uses the word štetlas in Lithuanian, it sounds exotic and needs to be translated to miestelis.

Shtetlakh of Lithuania: European Day of Jewish Culture 2017

This year the theme is Lithuanian shtetlakh.

September 3, Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius

Program

9:00 – 12:00 Boker Tov bagel breakfast
location: Bagel Shop Café, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius
Presentation and sampling of authentic Jewish recipes

12:00 – 12:45 Yiddish language lesson with Fania Brancovskaja
location: Heifetz Hall
Mama-loshn

1:00 – 4:00 Ze Taim bagel brunch and presentation of fall menu
location: Bagel Shop Café, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius
Presentation of fall menu

1:00 – 1:45 Hebrew language lesson with Ruth Reches
location: Ilan Hall
Registration here.

2:00 Presentation of European Day of Jewish Culture
location: Heifetz Hall
Welcome speech
Faina Kukliansky and honored guests to speak.

4:00 Challa making lesson with Riva and Amit
location: Bagel Shop Café and White Hall
Registration here.

2:.30 – 4:00 “Shtetlakh of Lithuania” presentation
location: Heifetz Hall
Participants: Vytautas Toleikis, Fania Brancovskaja, Sandra Pertukonytė, Antanas Žilinskis, Rimantas Vanagas, Indrė Anskaitytė, Vita Ličytė and others.

6:00 Rakija Klezmer Orkestar performance
location: Šnipiškės

6:00 Faykerlakh concert Shtetlas
location: Heifetz Hall
Celebrating 45 years of the Jewish song and dance collective

Restricted Access to Lithuanian Jewish Community

Due to danger to the public from falling bits of masonry, work will continue on the front portion of the Lithuanian Jewish Community building at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius and the front doors will remain closed and off-limits. Staff and visitors must use the entrance to the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum at the same address and just to the right of the main doors until further notice from 9 to 5 on week days and from 9 to 3:30 on Friday, June 23. The Bagel Shop Café will remain closed until further notice and all weekend activities are cancelled inside the LJC building for the time being.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Update: The front doors are now open again and the Bagel Shop is operating on its usual schedule.

Lithuanian Film Festival Features Experiences of Discrimination

„Nepatogus kinas“ skatina prabilti apie patirtą diskriminaciją
Image courtesy Nepatogus Kinas

manoteises.lt

The Lithuanian documentary film festival Nepatogus Kinas [Uncomfortable Cinema] is to present a thematic program on discrimination this fall. To bring attention to how widespread this problem is, organizers are inviting people to share specific examples of the violation of their rights. The festival organizers are hoping their call to the public for personal experiences of discrimination will help break the existing wall of silence surrounding the subject. All examples provided, publicly or anonymously, will be presented to readers in the press and on social media.

“The word ‘discrimination’ often doesn’t mean anything, it’s an abstraction. But very specific personal stories are described by this word. Sometimes painful, sometimes inspiring. These stories allow us to realize we will all face discrimination at some stage in life,” festival director Gediminas Andriukaitis commented.

Lithuanian law forbids direct or indirect discrimination and harassment based on age, gender, sexual preference, disability, racial and ethnic identity, religion and beliefs. Uncomfortable Cinema organizers have also provided categories of language, social status, gender identity and family status for people who want to tell their stories.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Four Days with the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Now with Subtitles

Welcome to the Lithuanian Jewish Community, welcome to Vilnius.

You will soon experience it for yourself. This isn’t a promotional film, it’s the reality, slightly beautified. Beautified, because you won’t see all the hard work that goes on every day and the people who do it.

I thank them. We work, we make mistakes, we fall down and we get back up and work harder. But we’re here. There are not so many of us, of course, and we are all different, and sometimes we argue, sometimes we embrace, but we are all here together and we are beautiful, able, talented, loving and dedicated. We’re the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the family of Lithuanian Jews, a part of our country. We have been here for six centuries now. We have experienced the greatest afflictions and disasters but we never gave up and we have remained.

We have to pass something on to our children and grandchildren. I personally want to pass on to them our Jewish identity, my story and deeds and those of my ancestors. I am trying to do this together with the community because I know that I alone will not succeed. I believe it is better to act and to make mistakes than to do nothing.

I wish everyone the greatest success. Let’s take pride in our Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Sincerely yours,

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

§§§

The activities of the Lithuanian Jewish Community are broad-ranging and interesting, and the makers of the following film decided to include footage from just four days in the life of the LJC. To show more would require a series of films.

One of the most important goals of the Community is listening to and taking care of our members, children, adolescents and senior citizens. Care and aid from the Community’s Social Programs Department is allocated to Holocaust survivors, the ill, disabled and socially marginalized.

An important benchmark in our work recently was the restoration and protection of our country’s wooden synagogues, unique in Europe. The opening ceremony for the restored and reconsecrated synagogue in Pakrojis, Lithuania, is included in the film. Work was conducted with the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department under the Ministry of Culture and with local municipal and regional administrations.

If the film were continued, we would have included more young people, students, the young Jewish parents clubs, of course our regional Jewish communities and lots of fun moments from the different events and holidays put on by the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Enjoy.

© 2017 Lithuanian Jewish Community

Faina Kukliansky Wins Election to Head Lithuanian Jewish Community

Faina Kukliansky was elected to a second term as chairwoman at Lithuanian Jewish Community elections held last Sunday. Monika Antanaitytė, Chief of Staff at the LJC, said the chairwoman won with a majority of votes, explaining all votes were cast for her with three abstentions. No votes were cast for Simonas Gurevičius, Antanaitytė told Lithuanian media.

Much Noise, Few Jews


photos by V. Ščiavinskas courtesy of lrytas.lt

Faina Kukliansky Says Election of Simonas Gurevičius as Vilnius Jewish Community Chairman Invalid

Is this an insurgency against the current leadership of the community, or also against dialogue with the Lithuanian state? This question needs to be asked because of the growing conflict among Lithuanian Jews.

Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) and Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said she still hasn’t decided whether to offer hew candidacy for a second four-year term. But long-time former Simonas Gurevičius, who left the community earlier, is already attacking the current leader on all fronts.

Incidentally, one of Gurevičius’s main supporters is US Jewish activist Dovid Katz, who constantly accuses the Lithuanian state of anti-Semitic policies.

Abi Men Zet Zich Club Celebrates Victory Day

The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated Victory Day 2017 inviting the public to the Abi Men Zet Zich Club at the Community. The event included a ceremony to honor the heroes of World War II, our veterans and Community members.

An overflow crowd of about 140 people crammed into the hall and foyer to honor the memory of the fallen and to celebrate humanity’s victory over the Nazi death machine. Time has taken its toll on our veterans and now there are only 14 Jewish WWII veterans still living in Vilnius.

The event was organized by LJC Social Programs Department coordinator Žana Skudovičienė with the aid of volunteers and colleagues, with musical performances by Michailas Filipovas ( Jablonskis), Vadim Volkov and Rita Alterman. The Bagel Shop Café and Natali Restaurant catered the event and Arikas Krupas provided special beverages to the veterans as he has for many years now.

Our thanks go to everyone who took part and especially to the students in the woodwind orchestra of the Santara Gymnasium and Pre-Gymnasium in Vilnius and orchestra conductor Linas Avižienis.

Thank You

LJC Social Programs Department coordinator Žana Skudovičienė thanks everyone who helped make this year’s Victory Day celebrations at the Community such a success for our members and veterans. About 140 people attended Community events for VIctory Day on May 8. A big “thank you!” goes out to the singers Michailas Filipovas ( Jablonskis), Vadim Volkov and Rita Alterman, and to the Bagel Shop Café and Natali Restaurant for the wonderful treats, and to Arikas Krupas who has provided and paid for special beverages for the veterans for many years now. Thank you!

Israeli Independence Day Celebration at Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium

“I thank God He has sent us the sun. And I thank God we will be celebrating the 70th birthday of the State of Israel next year,” Miša Jakobas, principal of the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium told a large crowd of students, teachers, parents, prominent members of the Jewish community and well-wishers on Tuesday at a celebration of Yom haAtzmaut, Israeli independence day, in the athletics field behind the school.

Children assembled well before the official start of the celebration to practice singing and dance moves, and slowly the crowd coalesced into a ring around pupils performing songs in Hebrew, including haTikvah, the Israeli national anthem, and Yerushalayim shel zahav, Jerusalem the Gold, as a warm golden sun promised the belated onset of spring. Small plastic Israeli flags were distributed to everyone who wanted one. On the track field a group of primary-grade students performed a flag marching ceremony, followed by a group of speakers on the opposite side of the crowd where the children had sung.

Principal Miša Jakobas was followed by Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky who asked some of the wilder children to settle down, joking such behavior didn’t belong on the playground, although it is acceptable at synagogue. She pointed to a building in the back corner of the school yard and said if things go to plan, this would be a new Jewish kindergarten in Vilnius where Jewish children would receive priority of place. Currently the Jewish kindergarten in Vilnius, Salvija, just across the river from Sholem Aleichem, accepts a large number of non-Jewish children as well and promotes itself as a inclusive multicultural environment, although it emphasizes Jewish holidays and culture.

Shlisl Challa

Schlissel challah

There is an interesting tradition still followed in some Ashkenaz Jewish communities of baking challa in the shape of a key for the first Sabbath after Passover. The challa may be shaped as a key, the dough be impressed by actual keys or it may contain a real key inside. It is called shlisl challa, from the Yiddish word for key. The tradition is still followed in Lithuania, Poland and Germany.

According to one version, shlisl challa is connected with a Passover prayer. The key recalls the door to Heaven or Paradise. It is said the upper gates of Heaven open during Passover, and after they close again. To open them, Jews place a key inside the challa loaf. Other Jews object to the entire practice as misguided, superstitious or even idolatrous.