Sukkot: Don’t Read This–It’s Utterly Futile

Dear Friend,

Here is a dismal, if anecdotal, indicator of the state of Jewish education: whenever I have asked, I have found that the overwhelming majority of Jews don’t know the phrase “nothing new under the sun” comes from the Bible.

In fact, it’s a central motif in the book of Kohelet, or Ecclesiastes, an enigmatic megillah we read during the forthcoming holiday of Sukkot.

The choice of Kohelet for Sukkot is a curious one. Sukkot is supposed to be the most joyous festival in our calendar, and yet, on it we read a book that starts with this uplifting phrase: “Utter futility, utter futility, everything is futile.” Gulp. Chew on that, shiny happy people. Solomon, to whom Kohelet is traditionally attributed, must be Judaism’s most infamous party-pooper.

Come Learn about Jewish Fall Holidays

Žydų rudens šventės – kviečiame į paskaitą

Sukkot, or Sukkos, is the feast of tabernacles, meaning tents.
Simchat Torah, or Simkhas Torah, is a celebration of the Torah.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and educator Natalja Cheifec invite you to a lesson where you’ll learn:

Why Jews must dwell in these booths made especially for Sukkot
When sins become good deeds
What the requirement of the four species means
Why Simchat Torah is the holiday of rejoicing in the Torah
Why Jews are not only allowed but required to drink during Simchat Torah

and many additional interesting facts. Students will also receive a small gift.

Register here:

We meet at 2:00 P.M. on October 8 at the entrance to the Bagel Shop Café located at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius.

Rosh Hashana at the Choral Synagogue

LJC members and guests gathered to celebrate the eve of Rosh Hashana at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius Wednesday, September 20. The celebration kicked off with Yiddish songs. Famous Lithuanian musician, organ player, pianist and vocalist Vitalijus Neugasimovas sang. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas delivered New Year’s greetings.

LJC calendars for 5778 were passed out and celebrants sampled traditional Rosh Hashana foods from the Bagel Shop Café. Services began after the sumptuous treats.

Stella Maris Didn’t Just Rescue Those Lost at Sea: How Father Galdikas Saved Jews

by Romualdas Beniušis
Pajūrio najienos

Stella Maris-Marija. Mary, the star of the sea. That’s what the brothers Galidkas—priest Jurgis (1883–1963) and Lithuanian volunteer soldier Valentinas(1902–1966)—called the wooden chapel they paid for and built in Pašventys village on the banks of the Šventoji River. The Catholics of Šventoji, Būtingė and the surrounding area had no church of their own and they had to go to Palanga, Laukžemė or Darbėnai to attend church.

Galdikas in exile in Germany, ca. 1918

Jurgis Galdikas was born in Lazdininkai village in the Kretinga district in 1883 to the family of an average farmer. He went to school in Lazdininkai and the Darbėnai primary school, then the Palanga pro-gymnasium, and upon graduation chose to enter the priesthood and entered the Kaunas Priests Seminary. He was consecrated as a priest after being graduated in 1907, then continued to study theology in Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. He defended his thesis to become a doctor of philosophy in 1911. After returning to Lithuania he was the vicar in Šiauliai and was then appointed parish priest after the outbreak of World War I. He established and headed a gymnasium there. In 1916 the occupational regime of Kaiser’s Germany deported him with a group of Lithuanian priests to Germany where he spent two years. Returning to Lithuania in 1919, he was appointed director of the Kražiai pro-gymnasium, whose curriculum was based on etiquette, ethics and morality and which became the Žiburys gymnasium in 1924. He was sent to Telšiai in 1927 to become a canon of the capitulum (collegium) in the Telšiai diocese and from 1927 to 1932 he was a teacher and inspector at the Telšiai Seimnary.

Rosh Hashana Greetings from LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky

Dear members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community,

I wish you a sweet 5778! I greet you wish you as much peace, goodness and calm as possible in your families and in the community, and to enter the New Year with a smile. The most important thing is that there be the least amount of anger possible, and that our health and moods might be better. May concord, understanding and a good communal feeling lead you.

Educational Rosh Hashana Evening

This evening we will not only have fun, try food and look at the new Jewish calendar for 5778, we’ll also renew our knowledge of this sweetest of Jewish holidays. Be there, 6:00 P.M., Tuesday, September 19, on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Happy (Jewish) New Year: L’Shana Tova U’Metuka

by Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary

The photo above is my shofar, an instrument made out of a ram’s horn, which is a traditional part of the Rosh HaShanah ceremony. Personally, I am unable to make any sound come out of the shofar, but both of my kids are quite adept at it. Don’t ask me how they learned it–I have no idea!

Today is the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShanah, which is the Jewish New Year. According to Jewish tradition, Rosh HaShanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world. In Hebrew, we say L’shana Tova U’metuka (שנה טובה ומתוקה), meaning, for a sweet new year.

As the New Year, Rosh HaShana is a celebratory holiday, but there are deeper meanings as well.

The New Year for Globalists and Nationalists

Dear friends,

Georg Friedrich Hegel was to modern thought what Plato was to Greek philosophy. Most of the ideological movements of the 19th and 20th century see themselves as his heirs: from Marxists to nationalists and from existentialists to psychoanalysts, they all imbibed Hegel’s philosophy and methodology, especially the “dialectic”: thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

But we Jews were, as usual, a thorn in Hegel’s side.

Hegel developed, among many other things, a neat model of the life cycle of peoples. A group–say, the ancient Greeks–will develop its particular spirit (volkgeist) until they make their unique contribution to the universal spirit (weltgeist). Then they will fall into decadence, fade into history, and disappear. Jews, mused Hegel, had made their unique contribution, monotheism, but they stubbornly refuse to disappear.

World Jewish Congress Hosts Meeting of Lithuanian Foreign Minister and Ambassadors in Jerusalem

“This year Lithuania and Israel mark the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations. We value what our countries have in common and seek to become even closer,” Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius said at the function.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky traveled with the Lithuanian delegation to Israel and met with Litvaks living there, who congratulated her on her re-election as chairwoman and wished her the highest success. The meeting was warm and hospitable with home-made dishes made by Litvaks. They agreed in discussions to work together with the Jews of Lithuania and in the near future to discuss broad possibilities and goals in that cooperation.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry reported meetings with Israeli leaders included positive assessments of growing bilateral economic cooperation, growth in trade, increases in tourism and successful cooperation in research and development. They also discussed security threats in their respective regions and agreed to push for more cooperation in the fields of energy, defense and cyber-security.

Congratulations to Feliksas Puzemskis!

Klaipėda Jewish Community chairman Feliksas Puzemskis has been appointed chairman of the Ethnic Minorities Council of the city of Klaipėda. The Lithuanian Jewish Community congratulates Feliksas on the important appointment and wishes him the highest success in this new post!

Kaunas Jewish Community Throws Party for Righteous Gentile

On August 20 the Kaunas Jewish Community threw a birthday party for Righteous Gentile Aldona Radzevičienė (maiden name Norvaišaitytė), who just turned 90. KJC chairman Gercas Žakas and KJC Rescuers Committee chairwoman Judita Makevičienė attended the festivities. Mrs. Radzevičienė didn’t just sit passively through all the well-wishes and gift-giving, but got up and danced the waltz and even performed a song.

Although she doesn’t make a big deal of it, as a young teenage Mrs. Radzevičienė helped her parents Uršulė and Juozas tremendously and the entire family took part in rescuing Alper Kirkilovski, Haim Chernevski, the sisters Shenke and Tzipke Vėberytė and the Shavel family from Kaunas in the Vilkaviškis region of Lithuania during the Holocaust. The had a hideout in the forest during and during the winter they slept in the barn. Juozas Norvaišaitis was arrested by the Nazis after neighbors informed on him. He was deported to Saxony in Germany and nothing further was ever heard of him. All of the Jews the family rescued survived the Holocaust. The father, mother and Aldona Radzevičienė were recognized as Righteous Gentiles in 2001.

Happy birthday to Aldona Radzevičienė, to whom we bow our heads. May you live to 120!

Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium Principal Miša Jakobas Greets Pupils on September 1

Dear school community, dear high school students and first-graders,

So summer has fled the fields, leaving behind its warmth and rays, as if telling us: “meet the autumn,” and Lithuania in the fall celebrates September 1, the Day of Knowledge. As gymnasium principal I may take joy in the great achievements and shared victories of our school. I hope and believe in the future we will be one of the best, one of the most beautiful and one of the most tolerant schools in Lithuania, not just in Vilnius. I am glad today that we finally have a first-grader named Sarah. This name is emotive and special to me as a Lithuanian Jew. And I am glad we have such an extraordinarily beautiful community, moms and dads who love and take care of their children. I am glad the school community includes a scholar and members of parliament, PhDs and professors, medical doctors and business people. I feel good that everyone understands the importance of knowledge and are prepared to lead their children into the world of knowledge at the Jewish school. I am glad children of different ethnicities have a place at this school and I wish we could have a lot more students, but all those who desire to enter wouldn’t fit in a single school. I have to apologize to those who did not get in. Let’s hope one way or another the gate can open, it is not locked shut. This year we have 420 students, a large number, a great responsibility, the work will be difficult, but we are prepared for everything.

LJC Chairwoman Greets Community on September 1, Lithuanian Back to School Day

Dear members of the Jewish community,

I greet you and your families, especially those for whom today is a special holiday, families with pupils and students. I wish you the best on your way to school and in your studies, and may the desire to learn and improve never abandon you. September 1 greetings to the students and teachers of the Vilnius Jewish gymnasium! It is wonderful to know the number of those seeking to enter the Vilnius Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium is growing every year. The excitement of September 1 never fades through life and it will always recall childhood and every September 1 holiday will always cause a small dust particle to irritate our eyes a little. I wish all the students great lessons, and for those who are just entering first grade this year, who became pupils just this morning, I hope the textbook becomes your good friend. Let’s take joy that we have a good Jewish school in Vilnius.

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

Photograph from Faina Kukliansky’s collection, when she entered first grade and took part in the September 1 back-to-school holiday.

Happy Birthday to Larisa Vyšniauskienė

Happy birthday to the tireless director of and creative force behind the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance ensemble, Larisa Vyšniauskienė. The Lithuanian Jewish Community hopes your wonderful smile never leaves you, that you continue to enjoy creative victories and inspiration, and that your life be filled with love and harmony.

Happy birthday, Larisa!

Lithuanian Jews Thank German President for Attention to Holocaust Victims

Vilnius, August 24, BNS–As German president Frank Walter Steinmeier planned Friday to pay respects at a Holocaust commemoration at Ponar, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said his presence gave rise to emotions of gratitude and joy.

“We are so very thankful for the respect being shown, and Ponar is the symbol of all the murdered Jews of Lithuania,” Kukliansky told BNS.

She also said the Nazi regime was responsible for the Holocaust, but not all Germans.

“The regime turned some people into beasts, and we must hold the rescuers in the highest regard for not surrendering to that… I actually have this ambivalent feeling, I have the urge to apologize to the president because I was raised to think Germans are evil, but neither Germans nor Lithuanians are evil, the regime was evil. We should just thank him and take joy in the fact the president is coming to Ponar to express his respects for the people who were murdered so brutally,” she said.

Kukliansky pointed to modern Germany as an example to follow in the country’s stance towards Nazi crimes.

President Steinmeier on his official visit to Lithuania will also visit German soldiers at the military base in Rukla, Lithuania, on Friday.

Concentration Camp Survivor Dita Sperling-Zupavičienė Visits Hometown Kaunas

by Danutė Selčinskaja

We return to Kaunas with Dita Sperling-Zupavičiene, to the same courtyard at Ožeškienės street no. 21 where she lived with her husband Juda Zupavičius before the war, from which she was expelled in the summer of 1941 and imprisoned in the Kaunas ghetto.

The artist Vytenis Jakas has brought the old residents of the courtyard back, Dita and Juda, Dita’s brother Hirsh, their mother and Juda’s comrade Ika Grinberg, the son of the owner of the building.

In the summer of 2014 Dita travelled from Tel Aviv to Lithuania with the hope of commemorating her husband Juda and his fellow members of the Kaunas ghetto resistance during the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Kaunas ghetto.

Vytenis Jakas, who lives in the building, unveiled his frescoes of former residents and Kaunas ghetto heroes Juda Zupavičius and Ika Grinberg on September 22, 2014.

In July, 2015, a memorial plaque commemorating Juda–a lieutenant in the Lithuanian military and a chief on the Kaunas ghetto police force–thanks to the efforts of Danutė Rūkienė and other Kaunas municipality staff. Dita Šperlingienė-Zupavičienė), Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, members of the Jewish community and municipal leaders attended the ceremony.

Dita is now 94 but has forgotten nothing and is glad to share her memories with anyone who asks. She said she was very glad to see her old courtyard again. We also saw paintings of the current residents on the wall as well as Jewish scholars. We were very happy to see our faithful old friends there as well, Fruma Kučinskienė and Vytenis Jakas. Thank you!

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!