Bagel shop

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.

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.

Vilnius Seniors Visit Panevėžys

A group of members of the Vilnius Jewish Community’s Seniors Club, directed by Žana Skudovičienė, visited the Panevėžys Jewish Community. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman spoke about the history and life of the Panevėžys Jewish Community in a pleasant setting, sipping tea around a table with fresh bagels brought from the Bagel Shop Café in Vilnius. Several of the Vilnius members’ parents had lived and worked in Panevėžys and were greatly interested in the Panevėžys Jewish Community’s Museum of History. Mutual interest led some of the seniors to tell about the life and fate of their parents in greater detail.

Guests visited the site of the Panevėžys Jewish cemetery and heard about its tragic destruction in 1966, and how headstones were used as decoration for the wall of the Juozas Miltinis Theater.

Žana Skudovičienė in the name of all club members expresses their gratitude for the warm reception.

Equality and Diversity Prizes Awarded to Leonidas Donskis, Baltic Pride Organizers, Crisis Center Director

Vilnius, March 30, BNS–The fourth National Equality and Diversity Awards recognized the contributions of Lithuanian philosopher Leonidas Donskis who died last year.

The gender equality award was presented to Vilnius Crisis Center director Nijolė Dirsienė for her many years of caring for women suffering domestic violence and active work over 20 years in preventing violence. In the break-through category the Baltic Pride gay march organizers got the award, according to event spokespeople.

The ceremony held at the Royal Palace in Vilnius Wednesday handed out ten awards for achievements and initiatives over the last year.

The award for dialogue between peoples went to Vilnius Ukrainian Association chairwoman Natalija Šertvytienė for active work in expanding ethnic dialogue in Lithuania, preserving the Ukrainian ethnic identity and aid in integrating Ukraine in Europe.

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky Speaks at National Equality and Diversity Awards Ceremony

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and other ethnic communities and public organizations appreciate the National Equality and Diversity Awards includes a nomination for “Dialogue between Peoples.”

As a member of an ethnic minority, I feel a more enlightened view in society on topics such as the Holocaust and xenophobia. People are slowly coming around to asking questions, engaging in discussions and thinking about the issues. Four years ago the Lithuanian Jewish Community began the Bagel Shop tolerance campaign which opened the Community’s doors to the public and made Jewish culture and history more accessible and, of course, more attractive. When the Community opened its doors, the public opened their hearts to the Community. I would like to thank everyone who took an interest and participated in this tolerance initiative which I believe marked the beginning of a small “dialogue between peoples” revolution. I present the highly esteemed candidates for the “Dialogue between Peoples” award:

Marius Ivaškevičius, the force behind the March of Memory dedicated to the murdered Jewish community of Molėtai. A record number of people turned out to remember and honor those killed, up to 3,000 participants marched along the last route taken by the victims of genocide perpetrated by Lithuanian hands.

New LJC Project to Make Recommendations on Anti-Semitism at EU Level

Remembrance. Responsibility. The Future. These are the sequential steps leading to real changes in society. The future of democracy and tolerance depends on memory and responsibility assumed, allowing for moving forward. A step towards the future–after surveying, judging and adopting expertise from the best initiatives aimed at fighting discrimination–this is the goal of this new start-up project.

The new project is called Development and Publication of Recommendations for Actions to Fight Anti-Semitism and Romophobia in Lithuania.

The project is supported by the Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft foundation or EVZ in Germany. This foundation supports systematic and long-term studies of discrimination against and marginalization of Jews and Roma in Europe.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has brought together a group of leading experts from among Lithuanian human rights organizations, community activists, academics and specialists from abroad. This group is undertaking to come up with effective and valuable recommendations on actions for fighting anti-Semitism and Romophobia in Lithuania.

Matzo Brei with Spinach

The Bagel Shop Café has started selling matzo and matzo flour, so we’d like to present some traditional Jewish dishes made from these items.

Matzo brei also known as matzo metugenet is a simple Ashkenazi dish whose name refers to matzo being fried. The dish is often made for breakfast during Passover.

You will need:

2 cups boiling water
5 eggs
6 matzo bread wafers

Matzo Is Here!

LŽB logo paveiksliukas1Macai

Members of the Vilnius Jewish Community are invited to pick up a box of matzo bread in room 201 at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius on workdays between 8:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. from March 22 to March 28. On Sunday, May 26, please come between 11:00 A.M and 5:00 P.M. Try to remember to bring you membership card!

Please note: Matzo will be distributed to social program clients separately. They are invited to pick up a box of matzo bread in the computer classroom on the first floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius on workdays between 11:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. from March 21 to April 4.

Every member will receive a full box of matzo without charge, but due to financial constraints we are unable to provide more than one box per member. Additional boxes may be purchased at the Bagel Shop Café for €3.50 per 1 kg box.

Bagel Shop Café Wishes You a Happy Purim and Offers Traditional Holiday Foods

Hag Purim sameakh!

The Bagel Shop this week offers vegetarian bebelakh. During the Purim holiday period we are also making a variety of delicious treats including hamentashen and serving wine. We are making vegetarian dishes in honor of Queen Esther, who was a vegetarian. The Bagel Shop is located at Pylimo street no. 4 at street level in Vilnius.

Bean bebelakh, a recipe from Riva Portnaja’s mother Sara Berienė

Sara always made this dish for the Purim holiday where all dishes were vegetarian in honor of Queen Esther.

Soak a liter of large beans overnight, boil in salted water for a long time until they go soft. Served cold sprinkled with salt. Simple and delicious!

Free Hamentashen for Kids!

hamentash

Children who come into the Bagel Shop Café in Purim masks or who say the secret code phrase–Hag Purim sameakh!–will receive a small gift.

This week Jews in Vilnius and around the world are baking the pastry called hamentashen, aka Haman’s ears, engage in an exchange of gift bags or Purim baskets of food and drink called mishloakh manot and put on the best parties of the year. Purim is the one holiday where adult Jews are allowed to get drunk and it considered customary to do so.

Our Litvak hamentashen are made with yeast according to recipes from families of Lithuanian Jewish Community members. Head baker Riva Portnaja tells how in her family they called hamantashen “ormentashen,” and her mother always added yeast to the dough. Classical Litvak hamantashen only used poppy seeds for filling and the triangles forming the base and top of the pastry are almost sealed close.

For more, see this facebook page.

A Big Thank-You for Making Kaziukas Fair Such a Success

17098700_1437182829647139_7414218332616588683_nRiva ir Estera

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky thanks everyone who helped make the Bagel Shop stand such a success at the annual Vilnius event this year, the Kaziukas Fair which began way back in the 17th century.

For their help, a big thank-you goes to Dovilė Rūkaitė, Rokas Dobrovolskisi, Riva Portnaja, Valentina Kot-Osipian, Gražina Pečkuvienė, Michailas Tarasovas and all the volunteers, including Simona Glazkova, Neta and Naomi Alon, Estera Reches, Vincentas Dobrovolskis, Asta Rainytė and her daughter, Elzė Rasimavičiūtė, Justė Čeičytė, Elena Grašytė, Daniela Mendelevič, Akvilė Ferguson and Geoff.