Bagel shop

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!

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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!

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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

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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.

Bagel Shop Offers Fairgoers Matzo Kneydlakh

Maca kneidelach – kultinis žydiškas sultinys Vilniaus Rotušės aikštėje

The Bagel Shop Café will be on site again this year for the annual Kaziukas (St. Casimir) Fair in Vilnius March 3-5 with a new menu item rarely seen in Lithuania but an old Jewish favorite: matzo ball soup!

Besides matzo kneydlakh (matzo-ball dumpling) soup, visitors to the Bagel Shop Café stand will also be served fresh bagels with a variety of spreads. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and support the team!

Matzo-ball soup recipe from Nina Sondakaitė-Mandelshtam, originally from Vilnius now living in Israel:

½ cup matzo flour (or ground matzo bread crumbs)
½ cup boiled water
1 egg
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil or chicken fat
salt, pepper to taste

Mix the matzo flour or crumbs with the water. Pour in beaten egg, mix, add oil or fat. Boil chicken broth. With moistened hands form matzo balls about 5 cm in diameter, boil in the broth. If you want the broth to be clear, boil the balls in water and then place in a bowl and cover with broth. If there are left-over matzo balls, cut them in half the next day and cook, eat with sour cream.

Shrovetide Pancakes at the Bagel Shop!

Everyone welcome on Shrovetide, Tuesday, February 28.

To celebrate the Lithuanian holiday known as Užgavėnės, also known as Shrovetide and Carnival, stop by the Bagel Shop at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius for some blintzes and a cup of the best coffee in the Lithuanian capital.

Condolences

Our deepest condolences to Bagel Shop employee Valentina Kot-Osipian on the loss of her beloved father.

Bagel Shop’s First Customer Still Loves It

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The Bagel Shop Café is celebrating its first birthday and asked its most loyal customer who came in the very first day and still visits often for her thoughts. Violeta Palčinskaitė is a poet, playwright, scene designer and translator, but is perhaps best known as a writer of children’s books. Several generations have grown up loving her poems and stories.

“Of course I have been visiting the Bagel Shop from the first day. It’s comfortable and feels like home, and the bagels really remind me of the baronkos of my childhood, which mother used to coat in half and spread with butter. Memories gently returned when I tasted that first bagel. The important thing is that you will something here which you will nowhere else! I like spending time here because all other cafés are more or less the same, but here you make real Jewish treats thanks to the creative women in charge who have inherited the food-making methods and can pass it on from generation to generation, and without whom that legacy would perish. I remember how I searched for the treat of my childhood, unsweetened baronkos, but it was never the same. Traveling in foreign countries, I once discovered the bagel in America, then in Israel, and I was overjoyed. That’s why I find it a very happy thing to come to the Bagel Shop in the center of Vilnius, besides which, it has the very best coffee which I have ever had in the city.

“I like the atmosphere, the café is cozy, it feels like being at home. I come often, whenever I can, and it doesn’t matter if beigalakh were supposed to be for breakfast or lunch. I can eat bagels day and night. My favorite is the bagel and lox, and with sprat, another smoked fish. I like the teiglakh the most, and I bring friends from Vilnius and foreign visitors in. They are very satisfied. I told my friend about the best coffee just last night. So let them all come and sample, and not just the coffee,” Palčinskaitė said, asked what draws her to the Bagel Shop.

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Currently she has many meetings with her readers. Her book “Atminties babilonai, arba aš vejuos vasarą” is one of the selections for Book of the Year. It’s a collection of memories from her happy childhood home in Kalvarija. It’s a complex testimony of the Soviet era and self-deprecating look at her own daily life as a writer, and stories about important Lithuanian cultural figures.

Palčinskaitė says it’s difficult to find time for all the meetings with readers. “Readers who would vote for my book are waiting for me. And the Book Fair is coming soon, the meetings are increasing, and there isn’t enough time to go to the Bagel Shop today,” she told us.

Looking Forward to the Bagel Shop Café’s First Birthday


photo: Vidmantas Balkūnas / 15min.lt

The Bagel Shop Café is gradually becoming an unofficial Lithuanian Jewish Community tourism center. Although there is an official tourism center in Vilnius, it’s not as successful. So if you want to get the newest information about what to see, what to taste and with whom to speak, you’ll likely find it at the shop at Pylimo street no. 4. It should be noted it wasn’t supposed to serve this function. In 2014 the project, still in draft form, was born as a tolerance campaign against public expressions of anti-Semitism and hate. But in the end it became a real, cozy place.

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Full story in Lithuanian here.

Discover, Recognize, Accept

One beautiful December afternoon director Vida Pulkauninkienė and members of the Dukstyna Tolerance Education Center travelled to Vilnius to meet with Jewish Community member Geršonas Taicas. The knowledgeable Taicas took them on a tour of the Vilnius Old Town and told them about famous Jewish personalities.

During the walking tour Taicas took them to the remnants of the old city wall where in the early 17th century the Bastillion was built at the Subocz Gate. This is a defensive fortification consisting of a tower, an artillery section and a tunnel connecting them. From there they walked to a location where the city and its surrounding areas are clearly visible and took in the view.

On Strazdelio street they saw the building where the Romm publishing house operated.

They also saw the building where Jascha Heifetz, the famous 20th century violinist, studied.

Greetings from Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky

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Dear members of the Jewish community, greetings to all on this holiday of Hanukkah!

I hope good feelings and warm and pleasant moments with loved ones will accompany you as you light the first Hanukkah candle. I wish you health and concord in your family, and that our children would grow up safe, dignified and happy and be proud of their parents and their roots.

It is a happy thing that there is ever-growing interest in the rich history of the Jews, and I probably won’t be making a mistake to say that there was never so much interest in the Jewish community as there is now, although so few Jews are left in Lithuania. The Jewish Community works actively to insure the rights and freedoms of our members and to promote Jewish interests. Unfortunately we weren’t able to achieve all our goals in 2016, but we will continue to strive after them in the coming year: monuments to those who shot Jews need to be removed, and Vilnius needs to have a monument commemorating those who rescued Jews from the Holocaust. We will continue to work on the issue of restitution of private property.

The Jewish Community is investing in the future, issuing scholarships and stipends for Jewish students and accomplished athletes. Plans for a new kindergarten have been completed, a kindergarten which will insure Jewish values are passed down to the youngest members of our community and prepare them for further education at the Jewish school.

One of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s top priorities is to improve the living conditions of clients in our Social Programs Department. We help when emergencies and misfortune occur. This will remain our priority in 2017. We also help rescuers of Jews, whose humility and sincere gratitude encourage us to grow and improve. I would like to thank Jewish rescuer Regina for the gloves and socks she knitted.

The Community building itself has become lighter and cozier. We have new audio-visual equipment in the Community concert hall and there are always new and different exhibitions on display. It’s a great joy that there is cultural life, ferment and creativity in the community, and that performers from Lithuania, Israel, the USA, the Netherlands, Romania and other countries perform concerts here. It is also a happy occasion that we have deepened our contacts with the foreign embassies, other countries, municipal institutions and NGOs. Thanks to this cooperation legal amendments were finally adopted to make it easier for Litvaks to restore Lithuanian citizenship. We signed an agreement on cooperation with the American Jewish Committee, we are enjoying wonderful relations with other world Jewish organizations and we are expanding contacts in the West as well as in the East, with the Jewish communities in India and Japan.

Interest in religion is reviving as well. We have two rabbis working at the Community who give lessons educating young and old on various topics in Judaism.

In cooperation with international Jewish organizations and based on their recommendations, we have increased security at the Community and synagogue buildings, and are approaching western standards of security.

We have the only kosher café in Vilnius. The Bagel Shop has attracted significant attention and television crews from Canada, Germany and of course Lithuania, too, have featured the café. It has become a place where not only Jews gather, but also aficionados of Jewish cuisine and culture. Our challa-baking event was a good time for all, and US ambassador Anne Hall was enchanted by the experience. The Jewish languages project carried out with the Cultural Heritage Department attracted much attention by many residents of the Lithuanian capital and visitors from elsewhere. In greeting you all, I invite Community members to show even greater initiative and self-confidence in proposing ways to make their hopes and dreams come true, because the Community exists to benefit its members.

My holiday greetings go out as well to Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon and the chairmen of the regional communities: Gennady Kofman, Gercas Žakas, Artūras Taicas, Feliksas Puzemskis, Moisej Šapiro and Josifas Buršteinas. Thank you all for the active roles you play and for working together.

Khag Khanuka Sameakh!

The Secret’s Out: Bagel Shop Featured on Russian Travel Site

Evgenii Golomolzin

Travel journalist and photographer Evgenii Golomolzin from St. Petersburg, Russia, has written a long piece about the culinary experiences available in Vilnius, with the Bagel Shop featured prominently.

Vilnius is a cosmopolitan city where all sorts of ethnic dishes are on offer, he writes. As a heavily Jewish city of many centuries, it has preserved Jewish traditions even after the Holocaust. There is an old Jewish quarter. A year ago the Bagel Shop Café appeared as well. The kosher café the Bagel Shop is an exotic attraction. The Bagel Shop is located at Pylimo street no. 4. The café is not large and is very simple, but original. It feels like a small apartment with the books and knickknacks on the shelves. You can read the books as you sip coffee, you can buy a Hebrew dictionary or a Jewish calendar. But people come here not for the books, but for the real Jewish treats and the bagels (€0.85 apiece). Five kinds are sold at the café.

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The display case also has lekakh, a Jewish sweet-cake; imberlakh, a pastry made of carrots, ginger and orange; and teiglakh, small cakes cooked in honey. You can order something more filling, for example, soup with dumplings (€2.00), an egg-salad sandwich (€3.60), tuna sandwich (€3.60) or hummus sandwich (€3.60). It’s all delicious. The café opened just recently—in 2016—but has already become a tourist attraction, the St. Petersburg-based travel publication writes.

Full story in Russian with very nice photographs here.

Canadian Celebrity Chef Chuck Hughes Visits Bagel Shop Café

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Chuck Hughes, the Canadian celebrity chief who has an entire collection of series on Canada’s Food Network cable channel and the owner of two renowned restaurants in Montréal, visited the Bagel Shop Café last week.

Best known for his show Chuck’s Day Off, now carried by the Cooking Network on cable networks in the United States as well, Hughes has a special place in his heart and his kitchen for seafood.

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The LJC’s Ilona Rūkienė caught up with Chuck last week and asked him a few questions.

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