Greetings

Happy Birthday to Semionas Finkelšteinas

Dear Semionas,

We are so happy to be able to celebrate your birthday together. We wish you the greatest success as head for 28 years now of the Makabi Lithuanian Jewish Athletics Club. After you completed your studies in economics at Vilnius University, you were one of the initiators behind the reconstitution of the Makabi club in Lithuania and have been its president since 1989. And you have been active in the work of the Lithuanian National Olympics Committee. May athletics always remain important in your life. You have won so many laurels in long distance, as a sprinter and a light athlete, and in the summer of 1990 we remember you together with a group of just over a dozen or so Lithuanians who ran around the Baltic Sea! The years together have been happy and meaningful, and with all our heart we wish success and great health will follow you closely forever!

Mazl tov!

LJC and Israeli Embassy Thank Makabi Athletes

On August 4 the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Israeli embassy to Lithuania held a special thanksgiving event to thank Makabi athletes who competed so well at the Maccabiah Games in Israel from July 4 to 8. The Lithuanian Jewish delegation won six medals at the so-called Jewish Olympics this summer.

Happy Birthday to Gennady Kofman

Dear Gennady,

The Lithuanian Jewish Community wishes you a happy 65th birthday!

A person is only happy when he does his daily work well and solves problems to achieve the goals he sets for himself. In your case, Gennady, those goals involve the lives, needs and joys of the Panevėžys Jewish Community. May every day bring you joy and meaning in your work on behalf of the Community, researching Jewish history and caring for your family.

Our respect and good wishes to the chairman of the Panevėžys Jewish Community. May you remain always in good health. Mazl tov!

Lithuanian Makabi Take Silver, Bronze at Maccabiah Games


Table tennis team-play competition medal winners Neta Alon and Vanesa Ražanskytė.

 


Markas Sames took silver in one-on-one youth badminton competitions.

 


Danielius Tarachovskism won a bronze medal in mixed doubles youth badminton.

 


Photographer Dovydas Fligelis captured a moment from a mini-soccer match between Lithuania and the USA (3:1).

Lithuanian Makabi Carries Lithuanian, LJC Flags at Maccabiah Games

On Lithuanian Statehood Day, the Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club delegation carried the flags of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Jewish Community at the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel.

The “Jewish Olympics” opened Thursday, July 6, with 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries. The opening ceremony at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem was watched by 30,000 fans in the stands.

This is the eighth Maccabiah Games to which the Lithuanian Makabi club has sent a delegation. Back in 1989, at the 13th Maccabiah Games, Lithuanian Makabi carried the flag of the Republic of Lithuania, which was only then beginning to break away from the Soviet Union. Club president Semionas Finkelšteinas and club athletes remember the event well.

Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club Leaves for 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel


Lithuanian Makabi team at 13th Maccabiah Games opening ceremony, Israel, 1989

The Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club delegation is leaving for the 20th Maccabiah Games, held once every four years, in Israel, where more than 10,000 athletes from 80 countries will compete.

This will be the 8th Maccabiah Games attended by the Lithuanian team. In 1989 the team was the first to carry the Lithuanian national flag at the opening ceremonies as the country sought independence from the Soviet Union. Club president Semionas Finkelšteinas and club athletes remember well the event.

Semionas Finkelšteinas:

“The Lithuanian Makabi delegation will have 28 athletes in 8 sports: badminton, swimming, mini-soccer, judo, table tennis, tennis, chess and riding. A Canadian rider who has Litvak roots was accepted on the Lithuanian team since Canada didn’t send a team of riders this year. The Lithuanian team includes three former Maccabiah medal-winners: chess player Eduardas Rozentalis who took bronze in 1989, badminton player Alanas Plavinas who won silver in 2013 and Aleksas Molodeckis who took bronze in judo in 2013.

“It’s important to us to participate in the Maccabiah and we never miss a single Jewish Olympics. Whether our team is stronger or weaker, we have always participated and won medals. This time we have five young people, three of whom expect to win medals. We have three badminton players, and the swimmer and strong table tennis player Neta Alon who could be a medal winner. Markas Šamesas and Vitalija Movšovič are our badminton players who could come home with medals. Among the adult athletes the chess player E. Rozentalis, badminton player A. Plavinas, and judo martial artist A. Molodeckij have a good chance of winning medals. Salomėja Zaksaitė, an accomplished chess player, will be competing at the Maccabiah for the first time. Our soccer team is traveling there with their new trainer Arūnas Šteinas. Three of our strong soccer players are unable to attend for various reasons. Artūras Sobolis couldn’t take time off work, Danielius Gunevičius’s trainer won’t allow him to go and Romanas Buršteinas has to attend to family matters.

“All the young people will stay at the best hotel in Haifa. They will compete in the games after which they have a separate program of activities. The swimmers will compete at the Wingate sports complex. Athletes from 80 countries will attend Maccabiah opening ceremonies July 6 and global media always give large coverage to the event, the opening ceremony is covered outside Israel by CNN, BBC and other global televisions channels. The Jewish Olympics takes place once every four years and there is a broad cultural program arranged for all participants. This event is about more than just about sports.

Catholic Priest Who Saved Jews Beatified

Vilnius, June 25, BNS—Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis, persecuted by the Soviets, was beatified and a ceremony was held to commemorate the event at Vilnius Cathedral Square Sunday.

The first-ever beatification ceremony held in Lithuania drew over 15,000 people where the Pope’s Franciscan envoy cardinal Angelo Amato made the announcement.

Matulionis was imprisoned for 16 years under the Soviets and he received his longest sentence in 1946 after refusing to collaborate with the Soviet regime in their demand he help squash the partisan movement in Lithuania and after criticizing the Communists for persecuting religious people. He was allowed to return to Soviet-occupied Lithuania after ten years of imprisonment. Although he was constantly followed, he was able to receive secret permission from the Vatican to consecrate bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius. Matulionis passed away in 1962 at the age of 89. Some believed he was poisoned by the KGB, although that hasn’t been demonstrated conclusively.

Matulionis becames the second person from Lithuania beatified. Bishop Jurgis Matulaitis’s beatification was announced in Rome in 1987. In order for Matulionis to be canonized, i.e., made a saint, evidence of a miracle must be presented, including those that occur posthumously, such as any which occur in invoking his name in a prayer to God.

Lithuania has a patron saint, Casimir, the grand duke of Poland and Lithuania who was canonized in 1602.

Teofilius Matulionis helped rescue a Jewish girl from the Holocaust. Dalia Epšteinaitė speaks about her childhood friend Estera Elinaitė whom he helped rescue.

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

Makabi Athletics Club Holds Mini-Maccabiah Games to Celebrate 100th Birthday

The Makabi Lithuanian athletics club held a mini-Maccabiah May 21 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the club’s founding in Lithuania. The Maccabiah Games are an annual international sporting competition in Israel to which Lithuanian Makabi sends athletes. In the mini-Maccabiah, 74 athletes from Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Šiauliai and Ukmergė competed in five sports: indoor soccer, three-on-three basketball, volleyball, men’s and women’s table tennis and chess. Everyone received participation medallions.

The Kaunas basketball team defeated the Vilnius and Klaipėda teams. Kaunas player Elvis Ušpicas won in foul shots (9 players) with six hoops in a row.

The Vilnius team on home ground won in indoor soccer and volleyball.

Catholic Priest Recognized as Righteous Gentile in Kupiškis

Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman and Community member Grafman attended a ceremony at the Povilas Matulionis Pre-Gymnasium in Kupiškis, Lithuania, May 30 held by the Israeli embassy to Lithuania to award the title of Righteous among the Nations posthumously to the priest Feliksas Ereminas (1890-1962). The Catholic cleric rescued the Jewish girl Rachel Rozenberg during World War II. For rescuing and further taking care of her, ambassador Amir Maimon presented Ereminas’s relative Tauras Budzys the Righteous among the Nations medallion and certificate issued by the Yad Vashem Holocaust authority in Israel.

The ambassador said the event is a lesson for our future. Professor Aldona Vasiliauskienė told the moving story of the rescue and how she collected the material required for the award.

Ambassador Maimon said: “We are happy and proud to have the opportunity today to recognize Feliksas Ereminas. Eighty years have passed since that time. Today we can only imagine those difficult times when Jews had to seek asylum.”

Congratulations

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has been receiving congratulations from far and wide on the re-election of Faina Kukliansky as chairwoman for a second term. She participated at a reception for a team of disabled athletes at the Israeli embassy with Lithuanian social welfare and labor minister Linas Kukuraitis to mark the start of her second term, where Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon congratulated her on her re-election as chairwoman of the LJC. Guests were presented a specially minted coin as a keepsake.

Notes of congratulation have also been received from the Lithuanian bar association wishing the LJC unifying and fortifying work in the future. Mickey Kantor, chairwoman of the Association of Vilna Jews in Israel, congratulated Kukliansky, wished her success and hoped for the same quality of good work accomplished during Kukliansky’s first term.

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.

Annual ORT Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony


Photos by Eli Rabinowitz

As the school year comes to an end and summer vacation begins, the ORT Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium held their annual combined bar and bat mitzvah ceremony Monday at the Choral Synagogue and the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Parents and children arrived in their finest attire for the symbolic coming-of-age service which was conducted in Russian and Hebrew. Proud parents watched their boys and girls of different ages receiving Rabbi Samson Izakson’s blessing as they stood under the hoopa or canopy, praents took pictures and the audience rained candies down on the hoopa as the service concluded. Sholem Aleichem school principal Miša Jakobas delivered a moving address to his students in Russian. The service ended with children passing by the Torah scroll but no readings by boys or girls.

The party then moved to the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community where the children or young adults had a candle-lighting ceremony to honor their parents, school, homeland, Israel and fallen Israeli soldiers. The festivities here were in Lithuanian and Hebrew. Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon spoke in a very genuine manner, translated to Lithuanian by Sholem Aleichem Hebrew teacher Ruth Reches, and recounted the parable of rabbi asked to repeat the whole of the law while standing on one foot. The young people performed songs, dance and did short skits in Lithuanian based on the writings of the author Sholem Aleichem and other Yiddish writers. After the young people were presented token gifts from the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the party moved into the foyer where there was abundant snacks, juice, coffee, wine and water. A series of artworks by students made especially for the occasion lined a long table as people helped themselves to hors d’oeuvres and waiters and waitresses circulated through the crowd with plates laden with food.

Abi Men Zet Zikh Club Celebrates Shavuot

The Abi Men Zet Zich Club and the Social Program Department invite their clients to come celebrate Shavuot at 2:00 P.M., May 30, at the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Rabbi Samson Izakson, cantpr Shmuel Yaatom and Markas Volynskis will be there. Traditional Shavuot foods will be served. For more information contact Žana Skudovičienė at +3706 78 81514.

Evening to Give Thanks to Rescuers of Jews in Kaunas

“It’s difficult to express in words our gratitude and respect. It is our duty to remember not just the victims of the Holocaust, but also those brave people who risked their lives and those of their families to rescue Jews, sometimes their neighbors, sometimes friends, but more often complete strangers,” Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas at an annual evening event to give thanks to rescuers and their children , grandchildren and now even great-grandchildren. He thanked those in attendance for their close and war ties with the Jewish Community and for so enthusiastically attending Jewish Community events.

Singer Judita Leitaitė, pianist Rūta Mikelaitytė-Kašubienė and violinist Paulina Daukšytė performed at the event. Kristina Kazakevičiūtė, the daughter of a rescuer and an actress at the Kaunas Chamber Theater, read some profound poetry and then lightened the mood with some Jewish jokes. Participants in school tolerance education centers also attended and there were discussions of how to teach Jewish culture to school pupils in a more interesting way. The evening ended with the presentation of small gifts.

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthdays to all our members and clients born in May:

Vilnius

Basia Markus
Fania Brancovskaja
Jurijus Greismanas
Nelja Voronova
Mere Leja Zagin
Arkadijus Kogan
Ženia Sokolovskaja
Mira Imbrasas
Liudmila Kovner
Arkadij Kac
Sofja Vysockaja

Klaipėda

Michail Kravec

Visaginas

Ilja Skulovič

Šilutė

Galina Lopatkina

Contest Winner’s Trip to Strasbourg

Viktorija Stundžytė, a tenth-grader from the Dukstyna School in Ukmergė (Vilkomir) and a participant in her school’s Tolerance Education Center, took part in the awards ceremony for the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania’s nation-wide contest “On the Trail of Suffering for Freedom and Struggle” held in Vilnius May 5. The high-school student and her teachers visited the Museum of Genocide Victims, the Lithuanian parliament and the Palace of Teachers, where the awards were presented. Viktorija won a trip to Strasbourg.

She submitted an entry about the woman Stasė Ruzgytė-Staputienė who lost her mother in childhood, was adopted and experienced the Soviet and Nazi occupations. Viktorija set the story down in 100 pages after transcribing and typing it.

Viktorija called the project an invaluable experience which she will be able to use in her life and pass on to her children and grandchildren to remind them what goes on in this world. “As I was listening to the audio recording sometimes I wanted to go to the places about which she spoke, but sometimes I just wanted to be a heroine and get all those people out of there so they wouldn’t have to suffer anymore and experience everything the people in these recordings experienced,” she said about her work.