Condolences

Rabbi Aharon Shteinman Has Died

Litvak Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman passed away December 12, 2017. He was a famous Orthodox rabbi and the greatest legal and spiritual authority among religious Litvaks. He was 104.

Aharon Shteinman was born in Brest-Litovsk in 1913. He fled to Switzerland during World War II where he taught at yeshiva.

Ponevezh Yeshiva Rabbi Kaanman asked Rabbi Shteinman to lead the Ponevezh Yeshiva for Young Men in Israel in 1955, where he was director to the end of his life. He also opened other yeshivot, Gaon Jaakov and Orkhot Torah.

The rabbi’s students published a collection of their teacher’s commentaries on Torah and Talmud.

In 1988 Rabbi Shteinman was a member of the Degel haTorah Torah sages’ executive board.

He was recognized in 2001 as one of the leaders of Litvak Judaism, and in 2012 Rabbi Shteinman became the leader of the Degel haTorah party.

Forbes magazine in 2012 reported Rabbi Shteinman was among the top three most-influential rabbis in Israel. Thousands flooded the streets for his funeral on December 12.

Thank You

November 28, 2017

Dear members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community,

I would like to thank the entire Lithuanian Jewish Community for the outpouring of love and support that has been extended to my family following the passing of my mother, Chasia Shpanerflig. I consider myself truly blessed to have the love and support of this amazing community.

Those who knew my mother knew her as a strong-willed and resilient woman. In ninety-six years, my mother was presented with some of life’s most difficult challenges–war, genocide, the loss of family, oppression; the list goes on and on. It is in the face of adversity where my mother, guided by her deep-rooted morals and values, distinguished herself as a human being. Circumstances that may have given others reason to abandon hope were the times that my mother was strongest and most resilient. Her selflessness and commitment to the well-being of her family and friends: exemplary; her will and her beliefs: unwavering; and her love for her community and family: unparalleled. It is these basic ideals that distinguished my mother and that she will be remembered for.

During the latter portion of her life, my mother was recognized her as an active member of the Jewish community in Vilnius. During times where she still had her youth and was physically capable, she actively participated in, and contributed to, all causes that promoted the well-being of her fellow community members. She took great pride in her level of involvement with the community, most notably in her tenure as an officer in the Veterans Division (secretary)–it gave her an unbelievable sense of purpose and brought her tremendous joy.

In the very late stages of my mother’s life, as her health deteriorated, the community which she gave so much of herself to was right there to return the good favor. The Social Services and the Ghetto divisions in particular, worked tirelessly to make sure she received all of the proper care and support when she wasn’t able to provide for herself. Being thousands of miles away, these times were incredibly difficult for me. Throughout this entire time, both divisions were right there by my family’s side, ensuring that my mother received the best possible care and that the lines of communication were constantly open for my own comfort and peace of mind. It is to them, and their leadership, that I am eternally grateful and would like to extend my deepest appreciation.

There is a popular saying that “time heals all wounds.” While her death has been difficult for my family and me, my mother lived a long and dignified life. The Lithuanian Jewish Community was a significant piece of her identity and she considered its members her family. I would like to thank everyone in the community for the lifetime of support they provided her and for being there for my family and me in these tough times.

Sofia Kats

Condolences

Borekh Yudel Katz passed away November 12. He was born September 26, 1931. Our deepest condolences to his wife Mania and son Yevgeny.

Khasia Shpanerflig Has Died

Khasia Shpanerflig (Chasia Španerflig) has died at the age of 97. She was a long-standing member of the Community and formerly a student at the Tarbut Gymnasium as well as a Jewish partisan under the Vytautas the Great Trakai brigade. As long as health permitted she devoted herself to the activities of the Union of Ghetto and Concentration Camp Prisoners, the Lithuanian Jewish Community and Holocaust education.

Our condolences to her son Volodia and daughter Sofiya and all her family and friends.

Commemorating Lithuanian Day of Holocaust Remembrance

At 1:00 P.M. on September 26 the public gathered at the main monument at the Ponar Memorial Complex to mark the Lithuanian Day of Remembrance of Jewish Victims of Genocide. The day is marked on September 23, the anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius ghetto, but the 23rd fell on a Saturday this year.

Boris Traub began the commemoration with a violin solo, followed by several young girls who read heart-wrenching Holocaust poetry in Lithuanian. Next Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis spoke, pledging the Lithuanian people would never forget the Holocaust. This was followed by the laying of wreaths, first using an honor guard in the name of Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture also laid a wreath, as did Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius and by Ronaldas Račinskas personally, the executive director of the International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Soviet and Nazi Occupational Regimes in Lithuania. Foreign embassies and the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum and others also laid wreaths at the base of the monument in Ponar. The medium-sized parking lot at the memorial complex was almost filled with automobiles bearing diplomatic license plates. Some sported national flags, including those of Estonia, the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation.

Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon spoke with a very soft musical accompaniment in the background and reiterated the victims had names, and are not a statistic.

Condolences

Our deepest condolences to Markas Buslovič and his family and friends on the loss of his beloved wife.

Union of Ghetto and Concentration Camp Prisoners and Lithuanian Jewish Community

Condolences

Moisejus Benderskis has died. He was born April 8, 1937, and passed away on August 11, 2017. He won many chess championships and prizes over the years. The Lithuanian Jewish Community mourns his passing with the Kaunas Jewish Community, where he was a member.

Genovaitė Gustaitė Has Died

Following sudden illness noted historian, long-time editor at the Mokslas publishing house and biographer of historical Lithuanian figures Genovaitė Gustaitė passed away on Tuesday, August 15.

Over the last several decades Genovaitė Gustaitė has dedicated her work to the life and deeds of beatified Roman Catholic priest Jurgis Matulaitis-Matulevičius who served as the bishop of Vilnius from late 1918 till his resignation in 1925 and who rescued Jews from the Holocaust.

Genovaitė Gustaitė helped prepare commemorations of Matulaitis and his work at the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Community held the highest opinion of her work. We are deeply saddened by her passing and extend out condolences to her many friends and family members. She was a sincere and profound person and an outstandingly good and wise woman.

Rest in peace, Genovaitė.

Condolences

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has lost an outstanding member and long-time friend. Boris Olšanickij was born September 16, 1937 and passed away July 16, 2017. He in earlier times was the director of the LJC’s Social Center. He passed way before we could thank him for all his service on his 80th birthday, just two months away.

Our deepest condolences to his family, loved ones, former colleagues and friends.

Lietūkis Garage Massacre Remembered in Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community and concerned citizens again marked the anniversary of the Lietūkis Garage massacre of Kaunas Jews on June 27, 1941. Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas hosted the event and recalled the blood-curdling events, actress Kristina Kazakevičiūtė read moving lines of poetry and the brothers Antanas, Stasys ir Rokas Makštutis performed on clarinet. Some of those turned out followed the traditional annual route to the Slobodka ghetto, the Ninth Fort and the old Jewish cemetery in the Žaliakalnis district of Kaunas, where it is believed the remains of the victims were buried.

Condolences

The Lithuanian Jewish Community expresses our deepest condolences on the death of the brother of Žana Skudovičienė. We grieve along with Žana’s entire family.

Jokūbas Furmanas Has Died

Long-time member of the Šiauliai Jewish Community doctor Jokūbas Furmanas passed away at the age of 102 on June 14, 2017. He was born April 25, 1916.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community sends our sincere condolences to his entire circle of friends and relatives. The Šiauliai Jewish Community and the Lithuanian Jewish Community have lost a remarkable man, a real Shavl Jew, a doctor and an intellectual.

Furmanas’s life was inseparable from health care, to which he devoted five decades of his life, almost 45 of them as department head at the Šiauliai Municipal Sanitary Epidemiological Station (now Šiauliai department of the National Public Health Center under the Lithuanian Ministry of Healthcare). The station was established in 1944. Then it was constituted of one room on Vasario 16-osios street, with a microbiology lab at Pakalnės street no. 5. The lab conducted clinical bacteriological and serological tests for the entire region. Transportation was a cart and horse. Furmanas was appointed sanitary hygiene inspector in 1946. His job dealt with controlling infectious disease, including spotted fever, typhoid fever, Salmonella paratyphi B (paratyphoid fever), dysentery and others.

Condolences

Vaclovas Petras Baltusevičius, a member of the Kaunas Jewish Community, passed away May 17. He was born June 16, 1940. We express our sincere condolences to his loved ones.

Kaunas Jewish Community Commemorates Victims of WWII

On May 9 the Kaunas Jewish Community commemorated the victims of the Holocaust and World War II and recalled victory and the joy of liberation from the Nazi terror. Memories sweet, bittersweet and sad were shared by the widows and children of veterans at the evening event, and Abraham Leizerson recalled his attempts to join the war effort as a very young man. Aleksandr Rave’s song performance unified and brought together the crowd, while Lucija Laverenova unexpectedly lightened the mood with a comedy routine. Basia Šragienė helped organize the event, as she did two years ago with her husband, now the late WWII veteran Shmuel Shrage, whose bright spirit lives on in our memory.

Condolences

With sadness we announce David Stupelman died May 10. He was a member of the Klaipėda Jewish Community and Social Programs Department client. He was born December 21, 1930. Our condolences to his family in this sad time of loss.

Condolences

Vilnius Jewish Community member Leonid Shchyeglov passed away May 4. He was born October 3, 1928. Our heart-felt condolences go to his loved ones in this time of shared loss.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Remembers Fallen Israeli Soldiers and Terrorism Victims

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the embassy of Israel marked Yom haZikaron, the day for fallen Israeli soldiers and terrorism victims, April 30.

The day chosen for the commemorative holiday isn’t arbitrary. On Iyar 4, 5708 (May 13, 1948) the defenders of Gush Etzion, a cluster of settlements south of Jerusalem, perished, not knowing within 10 hours the independent State of Israel would be proclaimed.

Annually, those who fell in the Arab-Israeli wars and including IDF troops, police, security forces, spies abroad and Jewish underground members are remembered. Officially those who fell from 1860 are counted, the year considered the start of the Jewish battle for the Jewish state of Israel.

There is no tomb of the unknown soldier in Israel because Israelis react deeply and emotionally to every loss, the memory of each one is cherished and everyone is remembered. In recent years the day has also commemorated victims of terrorist attacks, whose numbers increase each year and include children, women, the elderly and youth.

Condolences

With sadness we report the death of Chaim Rostovskij, a member of the Šiauliai Jewish Community, on April 30. He was born May 5, 1934. Our sincere condolences to his loved ones.

Condolences

Sabina Novikova, a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community, passed away this April 30. She was born November 1, 1929. Our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.

Kaunas Community Marks One Year since Death of Yudel Ronder

A year has passed since the Kaunas Jewish Community lost one of our most senior and most honored members, Yudel Ronder. His memory was honored with a prayer before Sabbath began, and later over dinner many shared their memories of the extraordinary man. Highly intelligent, cultured, warm, sincere and honest, his bright wit and wisdom accompanied him even during grave illness at hospital until the last moment of his life. He was extremely active and interested in a broad range of subjects. He began many projects and activities. Even in the dark Soviet era, he sought out rescuers, told their stories and concerned himself with making sure they were honored and taken care of. He also looked for Holocaust perpetrators and without fear met with them, trying to get inside their consciences and disturb their peaceful sleep. He was one of the first Jews involved in volunteer club activities during the Soviet era, the enthusiastic director of a drama group whose performances attracted scads of viewers. The performances were in Yiddish and he sought out actors fluent in the language. The current chairman of the Kaunas Jewish Community, Gercas Žakas, who knows Yiddish well, was invited to join the troupe and became one of main actors there. Ronder took care of his people and organized welfare for the poor. He made contact with German welfare organizations, earned their highest respect and received funding for material aid for members of the Kaunas Jewish Community.

Originally from Kėdainiai (Keydan), he lost his family and relatives in the Holocaust. He survived by being evacuated to the Soviet Union and served in the 16th Division. Ronder dedicated all his energies and devoted his heart to others. People who had the opportunity to make his acquaintance have never forgotten him and his warm stories about his grandfather. Yudel’s grandson Dovydas remembers them well and he came from Germany especially to mark the one-year anniversary of Yudel’s death. Kristina, the daughter of Yudel’s long-time care-giver Stefa Ancevičienė who became very close to him, also remembers his stories well.