Greetings

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!

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