Heritage

Jewish Community Proposes Cultural Museum in Vilnius Ghetto

Vilnius, June 27, BNS—The Lithuanian Jewish Community is proposing the creation of a cultural museum in the former Vilnius ghetto. There are considerations to include an open-air section beyond a single building housing the museum using modern technology. The LJC presented these ideas to Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius Thursday.

Creative analyst Albinas Šimanauskas, one of the authors of the idea, said they hadn’t decided on a specific location for the museum yet, but there was a proposal to establish it near Rūdininkų square.

“Rūdininkų square, for example, where there is a statue commemorating Tsemakh Shabad, could be the site for a memorial to Righteous Gentiles. It’s a fine square which could host international events, concerts, thematic festivals… this would be a Vilnius Jewish cultural museum exhibiting historical events and cultural phenomena through living story-telling,” he told BNS.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said they are waiting for basic confirmation of the idea from the municipality and will decide on a location for the museum after that.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Now Member of the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage

As of now, the Lithuanian Jewish Community is a member of the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage, better known by the French acronym AEPJ. The AEPJ supports the preservation, appreciation and promotion of Jewish culture and heritage in Europe. The association is especially devoted to making Jewish cultural and heritage buildings and locations accessible to the public. To achieve that goal, the AEPJ conducts two main programs: the European Day of Jewish Culture and the European Jewish heritage tourism routes.

For more information, see here.

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.

Historical Attention to Historic Lithuanian Jewish Buildings

by Martynas Užpelkis, LJC heritage protection specialist

An historical event! In recent days, almost a coincidence of sorts but more likely the result of dedicated and constant preparation, three historical Jewish community buildings in Vilnius have been repaired and restored at the same time. In spite of the temporary convenience, our thanks go out to everyone who contributed to the preservation of these Jewish historical heritage sites.

Renovation on the synagogue on Gėlių street in Vilnius, the Zavl Germaize and David Levinson Synagogue, continues, but work has been completed on the façade and floor, and new doors and windows in line with the traditional ones were installed. The Lithuanian Jewish Community owns the building. The role of contractor for renovation work was carried out by the public sector Lietuvos Paminklai [Monuments of Lithuania] enterprise and renovation was conducted by the Nivara company. This year as in the foregoing three reconstruction work was financed by the Lithuanian state and the Goodwill Foundation. In 2017 the Cultural Heritage Department under the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture allocated 120,000 euros and the LJC contributed 16,000 euros allocated by the Goodwill Foundation.

Jewish Deportations Just as Painful as Lithuanian Deportations, Forgotten by Lithuanians

Žydo tremtinio sąvoka Lietuvos visuomenėje šiandien yra beveik užmirštama. Ji tokia pat skausminga kaip lietuvių tremtis

About 1.3% of members of the Lithuanian Jewish community were deported to the Soviet Union in 1941. This percentage of deportations is the highest for any ethnic group in Lithuania. The deportations failed, however, to extinguish Jewish nationalism, and Zionist groups operated underground, organizing Hebrew education and exerting all efforts to allow Jews to leave for Palestine. According to Jewish historiography, in June of 1941 alone about 3,000 Jewish activists from the right and the left and Jewish owners of large industrial concerns and factories were deported. It is a great shame Lithuanian society today has almost no understanding of these deportations, or has chosen to ignore them, designating deportation an exclusively ethnic Lithuanian tragedy.

Historian Solomon Atamuk found there were 16 Jewish daily newspapers, 30 weeklies and 13 intermittent periodicals along with about 20 collections of literature published in Lithuania before World War II. After the June 14, 1940, ultimatum by the Soviet Union to Lithuania and the occupation which quickly followed, the Jewish community bore the brunt of social and cultural repressions. All leftist and rightist Jewish newspapers were shut down. Even Folksblat, popular among Communists and the organ of the Jewish People’s Party, was banned. Beyond the ban on the Jewish newspapers, editors of Jewish publications were fired and the new regime undertook a complete reorganization and shutting down of existing academic institutions. YIVO was made to heel, employees were fired, various books, newspapers and collections were seized. Opportunities to read in Hebrew were systematically lessened and Jewish libraries were shut down.

Jokūbas Furmanas Has Died

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.

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

Position of the Lithuanian Jewish Community on New Amendments to the Law on Citizenship

One hundred and fourteen members of parliament have registered draft amendments to the law on citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania to provide for the preservation of Lithuanian citizenship for people who left the country for European Union and NATO countries after Lithuanian independence in 1990 and who acquired citizenship in those countries.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is in favor of dual citizenship for Lithuanian citizens who have emigrated, LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said, “but we believe the rights of Lithuanians of Jewish origins should not be less than that of other Lithuanians. Lithuanians of Jewish origin who left Lithuania after independence for the historical homeland of Israel do not have less ties with Lithuania than those of an ethnic Lithuanian living in the European Union or the United States of America. The current draft amendments to the law on citizenship, however, would allow Lithuanians of Jewish descent who moved to the United States to hold dual citizenship, whereas Lithuanians of Jewish descent who moved to Israel after independence would not. For Litvaks in South Africa this doesn’t matter so much, because the majority of them left well before World War II,” the chairwoman commented.

“Nonetheless, there are a large number of people who left Lithuania after 1990. In light of the current geopolitical situation and current events, the geographical selection in the new draft amendment—EU and NATO countries—hardly seems rational or well-founded. This is especially true of an ethnic group which was one of the largest ethnic minorities in Lithuania but which was almost exterminated during World War II. In light of that and regarding these people, the law should make use of so-called positive discrimination instead, with the aim not of providing special rights or status to a specific group, in this case Lithuanians of Jewish ethnicity, but to redress their existing inequality with other subjects under law, in this case, other people of Lithuanian origin who left Lithuania after 1990. Criteria of concentration also apply: there is a large percentage of people in Israel who have connections and ties with Lithuania, and an interest and valid hope to hold Lithuanian citizenship,” chairwoman Kukliansky continued.

“The doctrine of Lithuanian citizenship since 1919 has lacked clarity and this continues now. The first law on Lithuanian citizenship appeared on January 9, 1919, and was amended and changed many times over. Debates as to whether the law conforms to the aspirations and hopes of the majority of Lithuanians are on-going right up to the present day,” she said.

“Currently preparations are underway to change article 7 of the law on citizenship. The draft language says a citizen of Lithuania may be a citizen of another country if he is a citizen of Lithuania and left Lithuania after March 11, 1990 and subsequently acquired citizenship in an EU or NATO member-state. In light of this geopolitical element in the language of the draft amendment, the Lithuanian Jewish Community wonders what values, principles and logic led the authors of the legislation to appreciate the Lithuanian-Israeli and partnership less than other partnerships, and to the interpretation that a Lithuanian of Jewish ethnicity living in Israel has less of a civic, social and historical relationship with Lithuania than, for example, someone who went to live in Ireland based on economic motivations,” Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky stated. She added it wasn’t fair Lithuanians of Jewish origin living in Israel have a lower legal status than that ofa compatriot living in an EU of NATO state.

Under Lithuanian law, a Lithuanian citizen is a person who has acquired or holds Lithuanian citizenship, which entails specific rights and duties and is based on a relationship with the state. The majority of Lithuanian Jewish community members have children or relatives who have gone to Israel since 1990, many of them Lithuanians of Jewish origin.

Animated Documentary for Teaching Children about the Holocaust

To date Fettle Animation, a Marsden-based company, have won a BAFTA and two Royal Television Society awards for their animated Holocaust documentaries. We wanted to know how they’re being used to help children understand this pivotal moment in history

From the Cold War to the bombing of Hiroshima, our children learn about important but traumatic moments in history while they’re at school. But although most of us are aware of the atrocities of the Holocaust, can anyone truly understand what it felt like to be a child in the concentration camps? It’s an emotionally complex scenario for anyone to comprehend. But a Marsden-based company, Fettle Animation, are leading the way with engaging and educative animated films for children. We spoke to their founder and Producer Kath Shackleton to find out more about this great company and their award-winning films.

Fettle Animation was created by Kath (a former art development officer) and her partner Zane Whittingham, who has over 25 years of experience working in animation. After the birth of their daughter, they decided to leave London and move back to Kath’s native Yorkshire, to set up in Marsden. “We set the company up hoping to get some work-life balance, but I think we’ve exploited ourselves far harder than any employer would in the end,” Kath jokes, “But it’s definitely worth it.”

Surrounded by rolling hills and the idyllic countryside, Kath and Zane have an enviable lifestyle. But both have they worked hard. In the five years since they set up their company, which specializes in the production of animated films from freehand drawings, they’ve flown all over the world appearing at prestigious film festivals and collecting awards. Alongside the Children’s BAFTA, and two Royal Television Society awards, they have countless other international commendations. They’re so popular that two awards that they’ve been nominated for recently, the Japan Prize in Tokyo and the Prix Europa in Berlin, are being presented on the same night. What to do?

And There Shall Be No Jewish Museum at the Palace of Sports, Lithuanian PM Decrees

Vilnius, June 13, BNS–A new tender for construction of a proposed Congress Center to replace the former Vilnius Palace of Sports is planned for this fall and there will be no Jewish history museum there, Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis said.

“We confirm an international tender will be announced very soon, taking into account that the earlier process was halted because of a possible lack of transparency. This project will be continued and developed further, but, unfortunately, the deadlines will be extended now,” the prime minister told BNS after meeting with Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius. “I will check, but this should be accomplished by the month of September,” he said after being asked when the tender for a new contractor would be announced.

A few months back Skvernelis and Šimašius met and said following that meeting that they were considering setting up a Jewish history museum inside the building during reconstruction. The idea drew swift criticism from Jewish representatives in Lithuania and the USA. Skvernelis now says the idea for a museum isn’t being considered any longer.

Are Russian-Speaking Jews Less Worthy? No Way!

by Arkadijus Vinokuras

You have to have malice to call me a Russophobe. I am addressing several Russian-speaking Jews of Vilnius who are spreading this lie. I have the highest regard for all kinds of Russian art. By personal invitation of legendary clown Yuri Nikulin I performed in his circus in Moscow. Also at the invitation of legendary Taganka Theater director Yuri Lubimov, I performed in his presentation of Master and Margarita at Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theater. Several of my best poems were written in Russian. Incidentally, I write poetry in Lithuanian, Russian, Swedish, English and Spanish.

So what horrible thing has happened to begin this malicious campaign against my person? Is it that I have foundation to say the Vilnius Jewish Community elections for chairman initiated by Simonas Gurevičius have nothing in common with democratic principles? If that’s it, no one has even attempted to rebut my arguments. So what else is left? To turn my well-founded criticism into the accusation that I am insulting the Russian-speaking Jews of Vilnius. That’s just cheap. But if anyone does feel falsely “suspected” of something, I sincerely apologize.

The accusation is without basis. When the fascists of any European state murdered our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, they didn’t care a bit which language they were speaking. After the 1917 Revolution around 100,000 Jews were murdered in pogroms. When Lithuanian Jews were deported to the gulag by order of Josef Stalin, it didn’t matter what language they spoke. Before and after World War II Russian Jews were subject to “cleansing” and tens of thousands of Russian Jews died in the gulags.

This is my statement which brought on the storm: “There is another problem, that of mentality, afflicting the Vilnius Jewish Community. For instance, the majority of those 260 VJC members who assembled speak Russian exclusively among themselves. They only watch Russian television channels. The don’t understand terms such as democratic elections and democratic election and democratic election campaign procedures.” I am clearly talking only about 260 people and I stress “the majority of them.” In other words, my statement has nothing to do with the 2,000 other Jews in Vilnius, many of whom are Russian speakers. On what considerations was my statement based? I wanted to explain what I believed were the reasons the democratic rules of the game were violated and ignored. After all, 260 people voted in elections which clearly violated the principles of fair elections and the community was divided. The easiest thing to do was to reject my arguments at a primitive and emotional level, shouting “Gospodin Vinokuras padsadnaya utka Faini.” And also by accusing me of belittling Russian-speaking Jews.

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.

Pre-Internet Viral: Songs of the Vilna Ghetto


by Geoff Vasil

The ORT Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium in Vilnius had a special guest Monday. Eli Rabinowitz from Perth, originally Cape Town, tries to make it to Lithuania every summer, and says he’s been here seven times now in the last six years. He comes from a long line of Litvaks in South Africa and has been quietly going to schools around the world to get them to teach their students the Partisan Song.

For those who don’t know what that means, there is a world-famous song which came out of the Vilnius ghetto, one treated as a sort of national anthem in Israel, where people stand at attention when it is sung. Most people in Vilnius and Lithuania today have never heard it, but over the decades before the internet came along, the song went viral in slow motion.

Choral Synagogue under Repair

The electrical system and roof of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius are being replaced thanks to financial aid from the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture and the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department. The schedule for services will not change. During construction tourists will not be admitted into the synagogue. We apologize for the temporary inconvenience.

Shmuel (Simas) Levinas, chairman
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community

Much Noise, Few Jews


photos by V. Ščiavinskas courtesy of lrytas.lt

Faina Kukliansky Says Election of Simonas Gurevičius as Vilnius Jewish Community Chairman Invalid

Is this an insurgency against the current leadership of the community, or also against dialogue with the Lithuanian state? This question needs to be asked because of the growing conflict among Lithuanian Jews.

Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) and Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said she still hasn’t decided whether to offer hew candidacy for a second four-year term. But long-time former Simonas Gurevičius, who left the community earlier, is already attacking the current leader on all fronts.

Incidentally, one of Gurevičius’s main supporters is US Jewish activist Dovid Katz, who constantly accuses the Lithuanian state of anti-Semitic policies.

Arkadijus Vinokuras: A Community Divided

15min.lt

Yesterday, on May 24, 2017, in an uprising against Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, the 15 men of the executive board conducted, according to the current chairwoman, illegitimate elections, thus dividing the community.

I, Arkadijus Vinokuras, a legitimate candidate, refused to take part in these elections for three reasons, which can be summed up in the cynical words of newly elected [sic] Vilnius Jewish Community chairman Simonas Gurevičius: “The unity of the community is important. But unity was never a synonym for idiocy. The community is united in pursuing its goals, in improving conditions, in mutual aid, in growth, in perfection, in other positive matters. Not in silence over dishonesty and apathy.” Did you get it? The unity of the community is considered a synonym for stupidity. Apparently striving for the unity of the community (but not confusing this in any way with a uniform opinion) is also idiotic. That the new “chairman” considers members of the VJC idiots and fools, and that the defense of morality has become a farce, was shown by him immediately during the election, when I withdrew from the elections and that very same minute a new candidacy was raised “in the name of democratic elections.”

Why I Refused to Participate

First. Because of the moral dilemma. There are 2,200 members in the Vilnius Jewish Community. These elections for the post of VJC chairman were attended exclusively by Gurevičius’s supporters, just 260 people. I, on the other hand, want to be a candidate for all members, regardless of whether they are proponents or opponents. That’s the correct and fair way. Thus my legitimate hopes and expectations as a legitimate candidate were not satisfied.

Second. Only Gurevičius’s supporters participated in these “elections.” He was elected by 246 people. I cannot countenance these elections turned farcical with no chance for an independent candidate.

Third. These elections didn’t contain even a trace of democracy. First of all, the conflict which arose between the executive board and the chairwoman was born in immorality. Whether there were good grounds for it or not, I won’t get into, I won’t go into the legal arguments. But it’s not just the legal aspect that matters in this small community, it’s the aspect of fairness and justice. So the chairwoman was accused of usurping power and manipulating the regulations of the VJC. All the problems of the VJC were placed at the feet of the chairwoman.

Flawed Regulations

But–at least the question arises in my mind–where were these members of the executive board of the VJC, these allegedly intelligent 15 men, these last four years? Why didn’t they over the course of those years do anything to change these flawed rules and regulations which allowed for manipulations using these regulations as seen fit and as desired by the chair and the executive board? Why did these 15 men, who placed the blame for the conflict on one woman, begin this conflict which has led directly to the schism in the community?

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.

Vilnius Jewish Community Conference WILL NOT TAKE PLACE May 24

We would like to inform you the conference of the Vilnius Jewish Community announced by one member of the executive board of the Vilnius Jewish Community acting on his own volition and without general consent to be held 6:00 P.M. on May 24 (notice was made in the April 22 issue of the newspaper Lietuvos rytas) will not take place, and that the announcement of the meeting is retracted by the Vilnius Jewish Community.

Community members will receive an announcement about the 2017 conference of the Vilnius Jewish Community in the near future when the date, venue and agenda for the future conference is confirmed by the executive board of the Vilnius Jewish Community.

Faina Kukliansky,
Community chairwoman

Launch of Judaic Studies Center

The exhibition “People and Books of the Strashun [Mefitse Haskalah] Library” opened May 22 to mark the public launch of the Judaic Studies Center at the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library. Dr. Lara Lempertienė, director of the new center, is the curator of the exhibition and the designer was Center researcher Miglė Anušauskaitė.

The exhibit documents the Mefitse Haskalah Jewish Public Library located on what was then Strashun Street from 1902 to 1940 (and which became the Vilna ghetto library under Herman Kruk until 1943), but also pays homage to Mattityahu Strashun (1817-1885), the bibliophile whose collection was housed at the Strashun Library proper, next to the Great Synagogue, but large portions of which passed through the Strashun street library during the Holocaust. The exhibit includes items from the collections of the Lithuanian national library as well as documents on load from YIVO, the Lithuanian Central State Archive, the History of the Lithuanian State Archive and the Lithuanian Art Museum.

National library general director Dr. Renaldas Gudauskas opened the exhibit at the ceremony Monday. YIVO director Jonathan Brent and Frida Shor, the author of an article about the Strashun Library, were also there.

Meeting with LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky at Panevėžys Jewish Community

Members of the Panevėžys Jewish Community turned out May 17 to meet Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky. She provided a brief synopsis of LJC activities and answered questions. Afterwards there was discussion of social welfare issues and an exchange of opinions about current events and trends within the LJC.

“Thank you, Faina, for your assessment of the Panevėžys Jewish Community, for sharing your insights and for answering questions of concern to us. We are not just the Panevėžys Jewish Community, but also part of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, so these sorts of meetings are important to us and pleasant,” Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman said.