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 (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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Israel’s Channel 9 Russian-language television reported the death of legendary songstress Nechama Lifšicaitė at 90 in Tel Aviv last week as the death of the symbol of Soviet Jewish aliyah. Aliyah is the process of return of Jews to their historical homeland in Palestine.
Full story in Russian here.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community is sad to announce the death of Nechama Lifšicaitė (Nekhama Lifshits, נחמה ליפשיץ) and we send our condolences to her daughter Roza. The older Litvak generation remembers well Nechama’s enchanting voice and her lyrical-coloratura soprano song. As we express our condolences, we say: let the ground be soft for her, and recordings of her songs will remind us all of the wonderful songstress and her interesting personality for a very long time to come.
Nechama was born in Kaunas in 1927 and grew up in a traditional Jewish family. She attended a Jewish school where her father Yehuda Tzvi was principal from 1921 to 1928. He later became a doctor. During World War II Nechama and her family found shelter in the Soviet Union and lived in Uzbekistan. They returned to Kaunas after the war. From 1946 to 1951 she studied at and was graduated from the Vilnius Music Conservatory. She performed concerts of her songs in Yiddish beginning in 1956. According to Solomon Atamuk, “Both in Lithuania and throughout the [Soviet] Union, Lifšicaitė provided refreshing national and spiritual sustenance to the Jews thirsting for their culture. Nechama’s songs expressed the deepest experiences and aspirations of the Jews of the Soviet Union; they were moving and spiritualizing.”
Overcoming limitations on doing her repertoire was not a simple matter during the Soviet era, but Nechama Lifšicaitė was able to turn her concert tour across many Soviet cities into a wake-up call for cultural and ethnic identity. Despite the negative view taken by government agencies towards the ethno-cultural activities in which Nechama Lifšicaitė was engaged, she was recognized in 1958 for her exceptional artistic expression and vocal abilities with first prize in the Soviet music maestro competition, and was granted permission to tour abroad. She performed in Austria, Belgium and France. Her songs were released on two records in 1960 and 1961, which were reissued several times in later years.
Nechama Lifšicaitė and her family made aliyah to Israel in 1969 where two more records of her songs were released that same year. She performed in cities and villages, on the radio and on television. Her appearances were great successes. In the period from 1969 to 1972 she did concert tours of the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Brasil and Australia. In 1976, without retiring from her musical career, she completed library science studies at Bar-Ilan University and became director of the historical archive of the Tel Aviv Municipal Music Library.