Greetings

Lithuanian Students Experience Hanukkah in Perth for Second Time in Two Years

For the second year in a row students from Atžalynas High School in Kėdainiai, Lithuania, experienced Hanukkah in Perth, Australia, via skype on a large screen in their classroom.

Last year they heard Dylan Kotkis, Carmel School captain for 2018, sing Maoz Tzur while Western Australia’s Chabad Rabbi Shalom White explained the festival and the message of Hanukkah to the 15-year-olds.

This was probably the first time in 75 years this Hanukkah song had been heard in this town in central Lithuania once so important to Jews. No Jews live in Kėdainiai today.

This year teacher Laima Ardavičienė and her class attended the candle-lighting ceremony at Ben-Gurion Park in Perth with members of the Western Australian Jewish Community via skype. The ceremony performed by Rabbi Shalom White of Chabad Lubavitch House was preceded by an enjoyable performance by the entertainer Mickey Shaked. The Lithuanian students also had the opportunity to meet some of the locals via skype.

One of these was Heiny Ellert, a 95-year-old Lithuanian Holocaust survivor from Neishtot-Tavrig, today known as Žemaičių Naumiestis. I filmed his testimony for the Western Australian Holocaust Institute in 2014. It can be viewed at https://youtu.be/118HN2_NYHs

You can read more about this and last year’s Hanukkah activities and about Heiny and his shtetl at http://elirab.me/chanukah-in-the-park/

Eli Rabinowitz
Perth, Western Australia
December 13, 2017

Happy Hanukkah from WJC President Ronald S. Lauder

December 13, 2017

Dear Friends,

Hanukkah is a celebration of miracles and a festival of light when Jews all across the world reflect in the darkest time of the year on hope and optimism in the face of seemingly perilous obstacles.

Miracles occur in the holiest of places, and in the most difficult–and even in the most mundane. As we light the Hanukkah candles this week, we recall the heroism of the Maccabees who rebelled against the oppression of a society which refused to allow them to live and practice as Jews. We remember in awe how oil meant for just a single night burned for eight days.

The miracles possible today are just as light and just as hopeful as they were thousands of years ago.

It is true that anti-Semitism and xenophobia are on the rise, and that in many parts of the world, Jews are afraid to live as Jews, and minorities continue to be persecuted. Even our Jewish communities face internal division over their religious practices and acceptance. We often wonder how our candle of tradition and Jewish unity can hold up in such trying times. So let us remember: miracles happen.

This Hanukkah, let the miracles so familiar to us from the past guide us as we move forward. We will triumph over anti-Semitism and hatred, and we will work toward a future of harmony and unity among all Jewish people.

As we bask in the glow of the Hanukkah candles over these eight days, let us remember that we are indeed a light shining among nations. Let us remember that there are nations standing by our side, who understand that the Jewish people, and the Jewish state, have a miraculous history of overcoming all odds. Let us hope for miracles, for peace, tolerance, and safety for all Jews, and for all peoples of this world. Chag Orim Sameach. Happy Festival of Lights to us all.

Yours,
Ronald S. Lauder
President, World Jewish Congress

Šiauliai Jewish Community Hanukkah Greetings

Šiaulių žydų benduomenės sveikinimas

May the light of Hanukkah envelop you in warmth and comfort, and may wisdom accompany your decisions, may success follow you in your work, may tolerance inform your relationships and may love, health and goodness dwell in all of your homes and families.

Sincerely,

Šiauliai Jewish Community

Lithuanian Prime Minister Sends Hanukkah Greetings to Lithuanian Jewish Community

Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis greets the Lithuanian Jewish Community which today has lit the first Hanukkah light and has invited all people of good will to celebrate the holiday with such a long tradition.

“I sincerely congratulate the entire Lithuanian Jewish Community with the beginning of the holiday of light and faith. Hanukkah presents us the wonderful opportunity to remember old traditions and celebrate fundamental values. It is to be welcomed that this beautiful Lithuanian Jewish community holiday is receiving ever more public attention,” prime minister Saulius Skvernelis said in his holiday greeting.

On the eve of the holiday the PM thanked the Lithuanian Jewish Community for its exemplary cooperation with the Government and other institutions in solving constructively issues of concern to the Community.

“We can only be happy about the restored Jewish cultural heritage sites and the synagogues coming back to life. Today throughout the country these buildings are being utilized by the people of Lithuania for cultural and educational purposes. Jewish cemeteries are being restored and kept up, Jewish culture is being celebrated and old traditions are being revived. All of this allows to state confidently that our cooperation will only intensify in the future and we will accomplish many important things in the future through joint efforts,” the head of the Lithuanian Government said in his holiday greeting.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Celebrates Hanukkah

The first Hanukkah candles were lit at different locations around Lithuania Tuesday evening, beginning the eight-day holiday.

Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis, foreign minister Linas Linkevičius and Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius sent greetings to the LJC.

The Kaunas, Ukmergė, Šiauliai and Panevėžys Jewish Communities also sent holiday greetings and warm wishes.

“Let’s learn to be happy and as we celebrate, let’s remember what miracle Hanukkah signifies for us all,” LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said in her greeting to the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Members of the Community and honored guests celebrated the first night of Hanukkah together at one of the largest ceremonies held at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius. Irish ambassador David Noonan, US ambassador Anne Hall, Polish ambassador Urszula Doroszewska, Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon, Vilnius archbishop Arūnas Poniškaitis and signatory to the Lithuanian act reestablishing independence in 1990 professor Vytautas Landsbergis attended, among others.

Simas Levinas, the chairman of the Vilnius Religious Jewish Community, said he was pleased by the large turnout. “I am very pleased that every year more and more people keep coming to celebrate Hanukkah at synagogue. This year there was a full house, full of good people and bright guests who came here to celebrate this holiday which is very important to us together,” he said.

Hanukkah Greetings from LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky

As I celebrate Hanukkah every year with my grandchildren, I remember the Hanukkah of my childhood with my grandmother. The holiday wasn’t as fun then as it is now and we didn’t get treats. My grandmother, hiding in the kitchen where there were no windows, lit the candles and prayed. We didn’t have a menorah, it was lost with all the family heirlooms during the Holocaust. She prayed, but her prayer wasn’t happy or celebratory, because she was always thinking about her son, and she always thought someone was coming, and she used to warn me: “hide, the children’s aktion is coming.” There weren’t fun times after the war. My grandmother was probably not the only one who remembered not just the Temple in Jerusalem, but also her murdered children.

Now we have better celebrations, we live better, so let’s learn to be happy and as we celebrate, let’s remember what miracle Hanukkah signifies for us all. I wish every member of the Jewish community more light, more understanding and warm and happy feelings. May the Hanukkah flame spread goodness in your home and provide the children waiting for their Hanukkah gelt happy moments, and the adults and everyone who sits at the family table to try the tasty Jewish latkes.

Happy Hanukkah, dear members of the Jewish community!

Simas Levinas Remembers Hanukkah in Šiauliai

Vilniaus žydų religinės bendruomenės vadovas Simas Levinas prisimena savo paauglystės Chanuką Šiauliuose

Šiauliai was a strange town in 1960. It was the Soviet time, there were still some “synagogues” illegally operating in apartments. Almost all of the local Jews used to go there to pray. It wasn’t entirely clear whether this was to satisfy a religious need, or the need to spend time with people of the same ethnicity. Or to speak Yiddish. Or to remember the horrible experiences of the Holocaust.

Or perhaps it was the instinctual psychological need to heal one’s wounds. Everyone wanted to enjoy the life which the miraculous lottery of fate had given them.

The town’s Jews stuck together and were ready to support anyone who needed it. This really wasn’t any kind of official community. Its leader was… a family with a larger apartment. We held all traditional and Sabbath evenings of Saturday talks and meetings there. This took place at the home of Josif Burshtein (the chairman of the Šiauliai Jewish Community until last summer) where Jews congregated right up until the restoration of independence.

Hanukkah was the holiday to which the town kids (they called us little Jewies) really looked forward. We were treated to hanukkahgelt, ponchikes and latkes. The parents carved dreidls out of wood. Some had managed to preserve their family heirlooms, a really miracle!, and we lit candles on pre-war menorahs.

Now I realize our parents did everything they could so that we wouldn’t know what they experienced. Everyone chipped in and used to hold the holiday, the miracles of Hanukkah, for us.

And even today most of the Jews who come from Šiauliai know and speak Yiddish. Those us “fun Shavl” [from Šiauliai] scattered around the world by fate maintain our ties.

This year on the eve of Hanukkah another miracle has taken place! We are witnesses to history. The world has begun to remember that King David’s city, whose age goes back more than 3,000 years, is the capital of the state of Israel!

The victory of the Macabbees has again lit the oil lamps of the Hanukkah miracle.

Birthday Party and Award for Daumantas Todesas at the LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated Daumantas Lveas Todesas’s 70th birthday this week and the director of the Lithuanian Department of Ethnic Minorities presented him an achievement award at the party.

Department of Ethnic Minorities director Vida Montvydaitė personally awarded him a golden badge of honor called the For Merit award in recognition of Todesas’s life-long dedication to improving society and to preserving ethnic culture and identity.

Lebn zolstu biz hundert un tsvantsik yor! Mazl tov!

Gešer Club Invites Seniors to Come Celebrate Hanukkah

The Gešer Club will hold a holiday meal with a concert and great company at 7:00 P.M. on December 12 at the Draugai restaurant located at Vilniaus street no. 4 in Vilnius. Tickets cost 20 euros. To register contact Žana Skudovičienė, zanas@sc.lzb.lt, +370 678 81514. Tickets are available from Irina Slucker, +370 612 40875, in room 306 at the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius, from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. on December 8.

Come Celebrate Hanukkah at the Ilan Club

The Ilan Club invites 7-12-year-olds and their parents to come celebrate Hanukkah together at 1:00 P.M. on December 10. There will be a rocking concert, we’ll learn how to make Hanukkah treats together and watch performances and Jewish music by talented performers!

It’s all happening on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius. For more information contact Sofija at +370 672 57540 or Žana at+370 678 81514.

Hanukkah Greetings

The Abi Men Zet Zich Club greets all our clients and friends on the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah!

At 1:00 P.M. on December 6 students and teachers from the Saulėtekis will perform in a concert called “Let’s Light the Hanukkah Light” on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius.

At 3:00 P.M. on December 12 you’re invited to the lighting of the first Hanukkah candle at the same location.

For more information contact  Žana Skudovičienė, zanas@sc.lzb.lt, +370 678 81514

Lithuania Initiated Netanyahu Visit to Brussels

BNS–Lithuania initiated the historic visit by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Brussels to meet with EU foreign ministers, diplomats confirmed Tuesday.

“Lithuania initiated what led to the planned meeting between the Israeli prime minister and EU foreign ministers during a meeting of EU member-state foreign ministerial council December 11,” Lithuanian Foreign Ministry media representative Rasa Jakilaitienė told BNS. Over the last decade Lithuania has become one of Israel’s strongest diplomatic supporters within the EU. Many other EU member-states take stronger exception to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius remarked direct dialogue is necessary to solve remaining disagreements.

In a comment sent to BNS, Linkevičius wrote: “We seek discussion between all EU states on the concerns of the Union and Israel. Direct dialogue is crucial. Only by hearing the arguments presented in discussion can we harmonize what are sometimes very different positions.

Observers say Lithuania’s pro-Israel stance might stem partially from coordination of policy with the United States and might also be due to the history of Lithuanian Jews. Recently Israel and Lithuania have intensified bilateral relations in the military and economic spheres. The Jerusalem Post reports this will be the first visit by the prime minister to Brussels in more than two decades.

Israel annexed the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem following the Six-Day War in 1967. Most EU countries and the EU as a federated entity do not recognize Israel’s declaration Jerusalem is the nation’s capital and cite the need to follow United Nations Resolution 181, or Partition Plan for Palestine, of 1947 which envisaged Jerusalem as an international city. The Jerusalem Corpus Separatum in that plan included Bethlehem and surrounding areas.

Bagel Shop and Israeli Embassy at Charity Christmas Fair in Vilnius


Photo, from right: Prime minister Saulius Skvernelis, LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, Israeli embassy deputy chief of mission Efrat Hochstetler, PM’s wife Silvija Skvernelė

An international Christmas fair fundraiser was held again this year at the Old Town Square in Vilnius. Visitors were invited to purchase handicrafts, Christmas decorations, sweets and other knick-knacks made and sold by the spouses of foreign ambassadors resident in Vilnius, embassy personnel, social welfare organizations.

Photo: President Valdas Adamkus, Faina Kukliansky, former first lady Alma Adamkienė

The international Christmas fair is an annual initiative by the International Women’s Association of Vilnius, which includes women from Lithuania and foreign women temporarily living and working in Lithuania as members.

Photo: Apostolic nuncio archbishop Pedro Quintana

Lithuanian Jewish Community and Bagel Shop volunteers went all out this year to make this event a success. The Israeli embassy’s booth sold Lithuanian and Israeli products and collected almost 4,500 euros for charity, three times more than last year’s amount.

More photos here.

Happy 70th, Daumantas Levas Todesas!

The Lithuanian Jewish Community sends birthday greetings to Daumantas Levas Todesas, born November 25, 1947, a long-time member of the LJC executive board, the director of the Jakovas Bunka charity and support fund, vice-president of the Makabi athletics club and consultant to the director of Moscow’s Vakhtangov theater, among other things.

You have dedicated so much of your life to the preservation of Litvak heritage and of the remaining wooden synagogues, to promoting Jewish history and culture, to fostering understanding between Jews and Lithuanians and to encouraging recognition of Jewish traditions in Lithuanian society.

In 1989 you were one of the organizers of the Makabi delegation sent to the Maccabiah Games in Israel, back when Lithuania was still under the Soviets, the delegation of athletes who raised the Lithuanian flag for the first time in decades at an international event.

Daumantas, we wish you health and happiness and that your beguiling charm, great sense of humor and sharp wit would continue to illuminate the Community for many years to come!

Lebn zolstu biz hundert un tsvantsik yor! Mazl tov!

Happy 50th Birthday to Rabbi Krinsky

Happy 50th birthday to Rabbi Krinsky! Mazl tov!

The Lithuanian Jewish Community congratulates Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky on his birthday and thanks him for his efforts and sincere work over many years for the good of our community. A young Jewish generation has grown up in Lithuania accompanied by your teaching and good works. Rabbi, the Jewish community wishes you and your family strength and health and that the Light of the Torah would illuminate all your future work.

Mazl tov. May you live to 120!

LRT TV Program Author Vitalijus Karakorskis Wins Prize for Intercultural Communication

November 16 is UNESCO’s International Day of Tolerance. Under the UNESCO definition in its Declaration of the Principles of Tolerance, tolerance doesn’t mean a tolerant attitude towards social injustice, nor the renunciation of one’s principles and their replacement with someone else’s. It means everyone is free to hold their own convictions and recognizes the right of others to do the same. It means recognizing people are born with different appearances into different social conditions, learn different languages, behavior and values, and have the right to live in peace and preserve their individuality.

The Ethnic Minorities Department under the Government of Lithuania named winners of its prize for intercultural communication November 13. There were 37 separate works in the running this year, including television programs, articles and interviews.

The judges’ panel awarded the prize to journalist, editor and filmmaker Vitalijus Karakorskis for originality and for discovering incredible connections between the ethnic communities resident in Lithuania in his making of an episode of the Lithuanian public television (LRT) program Menora on the topic of Dr. Jonas Basanavičius and Lithuanian Jews, on the 90th anniversary of the death of the patriarch of the Lithuanian state. They also awarded the prize to Siarhey Haurylenka for exceptional treatment of the cultures of Lithuanian ethnic minorities and the Belarusian language in the LRT television series about culture and history called “Cultural Crossroads: The Vilnius Notebook.”

Righteous Gentile Marija Rusteikaitė to Be Commemorated in Panevėžys

Dear members,

A ceremony to unveil a stele honoring Marija Rusteikaitė, rescuer of Jews, teacher, nurse, public figure and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Love of God, will be held at 1:00 P.M. on Friday, October 27.

The ceremony will be held at the intersection of Tilvyčio and Krekenavos streets in Panevėžys. Bus transportation from Vilnius will be provided from the Lithuanian Jewish Community at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius at 10:45 A.M. There are ten seats left at the time of this writing. Those wishing to take the bus should send an email to info@lzb.lt

Those riding by bus will be delivered back in Vilnius in time for the special Sabbath at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius.