Jewish Cuisine

Dmitrijus Kanovičius Donates 250 Grigorijus Kanovičius Books to LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community sincerely thanks Dmitrijus Kanovičius for the wonderful gift of 250 books of the selected writings of Grigorijus Kanovičius.

Everyone, not just Jews, read Grigorijus Kanovičius’s books written with his great talent and profound emotional notes because they give the true story of the life of Lithuania made more charming with a sincere sense of nostalgia. These books are like living portraits with images of the past, of our forefathers, memories with color, words, laughter and pain. Today they stand as a monument and testament to all the murdered Jews… Grigorijus Kanovičius’s works for us are important as a treasury of memories, of those we have lost who shall live on forever in their shtetlakh, now mostly abandoned towns. It is said truly that Jews will live on even when there is no one left to remember them. We are so glad that thanks to the creative work of Grigorijus Kanovičius Lithuania has a rich saga of Jewish life featuring our ancestors from the 18th century to today.

Thank you, Dmitrijus.

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!

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.

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.

Christmas Fair at Old Town Hall Square

The Israeli embassy and the Bagel Shop Café presented Jewish foods for the Christmas Fair at the Old Town Hall in Vilnius Tuesday. The fair will take place on Saturday, December 2. The fair is held annually by foreign embassies in Vilnius with all sorts of handicrafts, Christmas decorations and food on offer. Revenues generated go to welfare programs in Lithuania. More than 30 embassies and 5 international schools will man booths at the fair. A lottery will be held with valuable prizes awarded and traditional song and dance will be performed. The fair will be open from 12 noon to 6:00 P.M.

Jeffrey Yoskowitz Visits Bagel Shop Café, Investigates Litvak Recipes

Jeffrey Yoskowitz, viešėdamas Vilniuje, apsilankė “Beigelių krautuvėlėje” ir domėjosi litvakų virtuvės receptais

The Bagel Shop Café received an extraordinary guest today, Jeffrey Yoskowitz, an expert on Ashkenazi cuisine, author of the Gifilteria , author of the gefilte fish pop-up concept and the force behind #gefiltemanifesto. He is visiting Vilnius with a friend and is searching for the secrets of Litvak cooking. Both visitors spent a good hour writing down Faina Kukliansky’s family recipes in Yiddish and tasted Riva Portnaja’s Litvak carp.

LJC Challa-Making Event Big Success

The challa-making event at the Lithuanian Jewish Community on October 26 was a fun-filled evening with klezmer music and treats from the Bagel Shop Café. Four generations of women participated, some with their children and grand-children, others with friends, kneading and braiding the dough which was then baked and taken home.

The event was in solidarity with the annual Shabbos Project, now in its fourth year.

More photos here.

One People, One Sabbath

For the fourth time in as many years, Jews around the world will meet in their communities for an evening of making challa and greeting the Sabbath. The point of the international Shabbos Project is to unite Jews at least once a year wherever they may be around the world and to celebrate Sabbath together. This time, October 26 to 28, over a million Jews in 96 countries and 1,357 are expected to take part.

Last year 6,000 volunteers in 95 countries and 1,152 cities organized challa-making events during a single Sabbath, events which included over 8,000 women and participants speaking more than 10 different languages in Buenos Aires, and five city blocks in Los Angeles were closed to traffic for setting up cooking tables in the streets. In Melbourne 10,000 people attended the havdala concert and the event generated 61,884,223 images posted on the internet.

The Shabbos Project has been called the Jewish spring, a global social phenomenon and an incredible experience.

We’re inviting everyone to the Lithuanian Jewish Community at 6:00 P.M. on October 26 for an evening of challa-making and baking. The program includes kneading and baking, a contest for the best braided loaf, a presentation of women’s obligations on Sabbath and song and dance with the Rakja Klezmer Orekstar. So far over 100 Community members and friends have signed up, spanning four generations. Riva Portnaja, the senior chef at the Bagel Shop Café, will be showing her one-year-old great-granddaughter how challa is made at the event.

Everyone is welcome. We begin activating the yeast at 6:00 P.M. on October 26 at the Bagel Shop Café inside the Lithuanian Jewish Community at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius.

For more information, contact Dovilė Rūkaitė at projects@lzb.lt

Come Make Challa with Us

The Shabbos Project has been called a Jewish spring, a global social phenomenon and an incredible experience.

Last year 6,000 volunteers in 95 countries and 1,152 cities organized challa-making events during a single Sabbath, events which included over 8,000 women and participants speaking more than 10 different languages in Buenos Aires, and five city blocks in Los Angeles were closed to traffic for setting up cooking tables in the streets. In Melbourne 10,000 people attended the havdala concert and the event generated 61,884,223 images posted on the internet.

We’re inviting everyone to the Lithuanian Jewish Community at 6:00 P.M. on October 26 for an evening of challa-making and baking. Challa is the traditional bread served at Sabbath dinner. Please register here.

Sukkot Celebration in Panevėžys

The Panevėžys Jewish Community set up the traditional sukka for celebrating Sukkot, the harvest festival and recollection of the flight of the Jews through the Sinai living in tents. Each family and community makes a sukka according to their means. This time there was a special celebration in which children were explained the meaning of Sukkot, and they had the chance to “dwell” in the temporary shelter, playing, having fun and eating. There were also photo sessions held in the sukka, photographs being sent to parents and kept in the Community archives. All Community members contributed by bringing in the fruits of their harvests, including apples, watermelons, pumpkins and grapes.

Lithuanian Jewish Community executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas participated at the celebration, greeted everyone in the name of the LJC and wished everyone a happy and full new year, health, joy and mutual goodwill.

Later a prayer was read, the blessing of the Most High. Holiday greetings from Israel, the USA and LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky were read out.

After a sumptuous dinner made by the women of the Community and café staff, games and dances were held. Children gave improvised performances and were rewarded with small gifts. The celebration carried on long into the evening.

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.

Description:
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:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1oN-Nj3-EYpdg2xFAl82GJPeWLxqhzyomQ6e6JdEZ9OQ/edit

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.

LJC Rosh Hashana with Community and Guests

The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated the eve of Rosh Hashana with traditional dishes and a party at the Community. Community members and guests were feted with delicacies supplied by the chefs at the Bagel Shop Café and were given new calendars for 5778 featuring the synagogues and especially historic wooden synagogues of Lithuania.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky welcomed audience and expressed good wishes for the coming year, and Israel’s ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon spoke about Rosh Hashana traditions unchanged over centuries. Israeli honorary consul in Lithuania professor Vladas Bumelis, Lithuanian MPs Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė and Irena Šiaulienė and guests from Israel celebrated together. Natalija Heifetz, a guide at the Choral Synagogue, delivered a family heirloom, the shofar horn, blown on Rosh Hashana.

Inter-Institutional Cooperation for the Preservation of Lithuanian Jewish Heritage

A paper delivered by Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky at the conference “Diaspora and Heritage: The Shtetl” held to mark the European Day of Jewish Culture and the Lithuanian Day of Remembrance of Jewish Victims of Genocide at the Lithuanian parliament on September 25, 2017.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Jewish Heritage Today

According to the census of 2011, there are 3,050 Jews living in Lithuania. Other sources say the number is up to 5,000 Jews, of whom 2,000 live in the city of Vilnius. For comparison, in the mid-19th century there were 250,000 Jews living in what is now the territory of Lithuania. Lithuania lost more than 90% of her Jewish community in the Holocaust.

Today Lithuanian Jews are united in 28 non-governmental organizations which are in turn united in the association the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Heritage, although it is very important, is only one of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s areas of endeavor. The Lithuanian Jewish Community is actively working in providing constant social support to Community members in seven regions of Lithuania, organizes educational programs, keeps alive the memory of Holocaust victims, is carrying out various project activities and is engaged in human rights advocacy.

Returning to the topic of heritage, Litvak heritage means relics of the cultural landscape created over more than 600 years by the community which once reached a quarter million people, spread throughout almost all the cities and towns in Lithuania today. This includes almost 200 cemeteries, more than 200 mass murder/mass grave sites and more than 40 synagogues which have been declared cultural treasures.

The Need for and Experience in Cooperation

The current, post-Holocaust Lithuanian Jewish Community would never be able to guard and conserve that which has been created over centuries throughout the country without the help of governmental and municipal institutions, NGOs and active citizens.

Dream about the Vanished Jerusalem

by Grigory Kanovich
translated from Russian by Yisrael Elliot Cohen

It seems that I dreamed about it when I was still in the cradle, long before I first saw it for real. Long before 1945, when it took me into its bleeding embraces that still reeked of the smoldering embers of war. Long before one could see there a burial hillock whose mud besmirched all my joys and forever stained, with a poison-yellow tint, all of my sorrows, because it was there that my mother (may her memory be blessed) found peace or perhaps did not find it.

In the course of my now already hardly short life, I have visited many cities — New York and Paris, London and Geneva, Toronto and Berlin, Turin, Prague and Warsaw. But not one of those majestic, inimitable, attractive cities ever entered my dreams.

I only dreamed about a single city in the whole world.

Thank You

A week has passed during which Lithuanian remembered her shtetlakh. The fourteenth celebration of the annual European Day of Jewish Culture has taken place in Lithuania, this year with the theme “Diaspora and Heritage: The Shtetlakh.” Lithuanian towns which used to be called shtetlakh hosted events, tours of surviving old towns and Jewish residential sections, interesting talks on the former life of Litvaks there. The word shtetl was heard much in Lithuania after the Holocaust, with the loss of the former Litvak world and the Yiddish language.

This year the European Day of Jewish Culture was observed in more than 20 towns and cities, including Alytus, Jurbarkas, from Kaunas to Žasliai and Žiežmariai, Kelmė, Klaipėda, Kretinga, Molėtai, Palanga, Pakruojis, Pandėlys, Pasvalys, Pikeliai, Šiauliai, Šilalė, Jonava, Joniškis, Kupiškis, Darbėnai, Šeduva, Švėkšna, Ukmergė, Zarasai and Želva.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community thanks all the participating cities and towns for remembering the shtetlakh and the Jews who lived, traded, created and built there. They deserve to be remembered. Many cities and towns held lectures, conferences, exhibits, concerts and film screenings this year.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky also thanks the organizers of the events at the Jewish Community for their interesting program, and thanks the participants and speakers who spoke about the remaining traces of the shtetlakh in Lithuania. We thank Fania Brancovskaja, Vytautas Toleikis, Sandra Petrukonytė, Ilona Šedienė, Rimantas Vanagas and Antanas Žilinskas not just for their interesting presentations, but also for their own work, books and research on Jewish history, contributing to making the shtetlakh part of the heart of our country, without which Lithuania is impossible to imagine.

Thank you also to the Bagel Shop Café for the tasty Jewish dishes, the Sabbath ceramics exhibit and the holiday atmosphere, and to the Fayerlakh ensemble for the wonderful concert!

Our sincere thanks to everyone.

Lithuanian Shtetlakh: European Day of Jewish Culture Celebration September 3 at LJC

Press release

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites the public to attend an event dedicated to the Jewish shtetls of Lithuania to commemorate and remember together this period of Lithuanian history, interesting and dear to us but cut short by the Holocaust and which has become a subject of academic interest and heritage protection.

The theme of this year’s European Day of Jewish Culture on September 3 as confirmed by the Cultural Heritage Department to the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture is “The Diaspora and Heritage: The Shtetl.” This is an intentional, mature and topical choice for a country where the life of the largest ethnic and confessional minority, of the Jews, thrived namely in the Lithuanian shtetlakh until 1941.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will host an event called “Shtetlakh of Lithuania” on the third floor of the community building at Pylimo street no. 4 on September 3 to celebrate the European Day of Jewish Culture in 2017.

The event will kick off with a bagel breakfast and a presentation and tasting of authentic Jewish recipes at the Bagel Shop Café on the first floor at 9:00 A.M. Following that everyone is invited to attend a short Yiddish language lesson. A brunch awaits the graduates at the Bagel Shop Café. At 2:00 P.M. guest speakers will begin delivering free public lectures on the shtetlakh of Aniksht (Anykščiai), Eishishyok (Eišiškės), Sheduva (Šeduva) and Vilkovishk (Vilkaviškis) and what remains of them. A challa-baking lesson and presentation of the Bagel Shop Café’s new ceramics collection begins at 4:00 P.M. The Jewish song and dance ensemble Fayerlakh will perform a concert at 6:00 P.M.

The Rakija Klezmer Orkestar will also perform a concert at 3:00 P.M. in the Šnipiškės neighborhood of Vilnius.

More information available here.

“The reality in Lithuania is that If you want to learn more about the material and immaterial cultural heritage of a given town in Lithuanian (including the architectural features and aura of buildings, demographic changes and consequent changes in the structure of the town, changes in political structure and the ensuing canonization of ideologized development patterns), you will, unavoidably, run into the word ‘shtetl.’ You will find no better opportunity to understand what this is and to discover the shtetl in the features of buildings still standing in the towns than the events for the European Day of Jewish Culture on September 3,” director of the Cultural Heritage Department Diana Varnaitė said.

The word shtetl is an old Yiddish diminutive for shtot, city, meaning town. The towns of Lithuania where Jews comprised half or the majority of the population, characterized by Litvak energy and the bustle of commercial activity, are often called shtetlakh, the plural of shtetl. It’s thought shtetls evolved into their modern form in the 18th century. Malat, Kupeshok, Zosle, Olkenik, Svintsyan, Vilkomir, Gruzd, Eishyshok, Utyan–these are just a few of the surviving Lithuanian towns.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky recalls her parents’ shtetl:

“We didn’t travel to my grandparents’ village in the summer. We didn’t have any ebcause they were murdered in the Holocaust, or had moved from their shtetlakh to Vilnius or Kaunas because they could no longer live there without their loved ones and friends lying in the pits together with the bodies and souls of the other unfortunates.

“The Kuklianskys who survived, however, my father, my uncle who hid in trenches from the Nazis near the shtetl of Sventiyansk, were rescued by local village people, but for their entire lives longed for their home on the banks of the Ančia River in Veisiejai, Lithuania. There was no place happier or more beautiful than their native shtetl. Perhaps because their mother hadn’t been murdered yet.

“The eyes of my mother, who was born in Keydan (Kėdainiai) and spent her childhood in Shavl (Šiauliai), her eyes used to just shine when she remembered how they used to go to the ‘spa town’ of Pagelava near Shavl in horse-drawn cart.

“The shtetls… are no more. Now there are cities and towns, but they have no rabbis, no yeshivas, synagogues or Jews… all that remains is love for the place of one’s birth, but love is stronger than hate. The memories remain, too, and without them we wouldn’t be commemorating the shtetls and their inhabitants.”

Those who seek to find the traces of the lost and concealed presence of the Jews only have to find their way to the center of a Lithuanian town, to the old town, where the red-brick buildings still stand. All of the old towns of the small towns were built by Jews. The same goes for the former synagogues, schools, pharmacies and hospitals.

Cultural heritage experts tell us market day and the Sabbath were the main events of the week in the Lithuanian towns. Both were observed. After the Holocaust the shtetlakh were empty, the Jewish homes stood empty even if they still contained family heirlooms and the items acquired over lifetimes. Non-Jewish neighbors often moved into these houses and took over the property. Now no one uses the word štetlas in Lithuanian, it sounds exotic and needs to be translated to miestelis.