Jewish Cuisine

Panevėžys Jewish Community Passover Celebrations

The Panevėžys Jewish Community greet you on the upcoming holiday of Passover and invite you to a series of events for the holiday:

April 6 Concert “From a Forgotten Book” at the Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Panevėžys Regional Public Library, Respublikos street no. 14 at 5:00 P.M.

April 10 First Passover Seder at the Rojaus paukštė café, Respublikos street no. 4A at 6:30 P.M.

April 11 Second Passover Seder at the Panevėžys Jewish Community, Ramygalos street no. 18 at 2:00 P.M.

April 14 Third Passover Seder and Sabbath at the Panevėžys Jewish Community, Ramygalos street no. 18 at 2:00 P.M.

Israeli Exchange Students Feel at Home in Kaunas, Lithuania

For a decade now there has been a club for Israeli young people studying in Kaunas. The club meets at what is called the Kaunas Jewish Center in the center of town. Currently about 130 students from the Lithuanian Health Sciences University attend regularly and all Jewish students in Lithuania are welcome.

The center features a synagogue, the student club and a kosher food restaurant for students, and hosts events and holiday celebrations. A mikvah for married women is to be set up before Shavuot this year. Rabbi Moshe Sheynfeld and his right-hand man Aleks Minin run the center. Minin helps with the daily tasks and making new ideas real. The founder, financial supporter and tutelary spirit of the center is William Shtern, who says he’s happy the students have found a small piece of Israel in Kaunas, their second home, where they can further their own identities, but he says he is even more glad they are meeting one another, becoming friends and even starting families.

The Kaunas Jewish Community has been working with Shtern and his center for several years now and acts as partner in certain center projects, and people from the center attend Kaunas Jewish Community events. Every Friday people from the center donate fresh challa bread for the Kaunas Jewish Community’s Sabbath dinner.

You can find out more about the Kaunas Jewish Center here.

Matzo Brei with Spinach

The Bagel Shop Café has started selling matzo and matzo flour, so we’d like to present some traditional Jewish dishes made from these items.

Matzo brei also known as matzo metugenet is a simple Ashkenazi dish whose name refers to matzo being fried. The dish is often made for breakfast during Passover.

You will need:

2 cups boiling water
5 eggs
6 matzo bread wafers

Matzo Is Here!

LŽB logo paveiksliukas1Macai

Members of the Vilnius Jewish Community are invited to pick up a box of matzo bread in room 201 at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius on workdays between 8:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. from March 22 to March 28. On Sunday, May 26, please come between 11:00 A.M and 5:00 P.M. Try to remember to bring you membership card!

Please note: Matzo will be distributed to social program clients separately. They are invited to pick up a box of matzo bread in the computer classroom on the first floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius on workdays between 11:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. from March 21 to April 4.

Every member will receive a full box of matzo without charge, but due to financial constraints we are unable to provide more than one box per member. Additional boxes may be purchased at the Bagel Shop Café for €3.50 per 1 kg box.

Special Celebrations at the Šiauliai Jewish Community

Last weekend was special for the Šiauliai Jewish Community. Friday many members of the community gathered to celebrate the Sabbath conducted properly by Rabbi Kalev Krelin. The men went for prayer to the synagogue and the women lit the candles to the kiddush and challa. We had a special guest: Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon paid an unofficial visit.

At the culmination of the evening the entire community enjoyed kosher floimen-tzimmes.

Early Saturday morning the men gathered again for prayer at synagogue with the rabbi.

In the evening all members of the community dressed up in carnival costumes and masks and gathered to celebrate Purim. Rabbi Kalev Krelin read from the Book of Esther and all of us, together and loudly, wiped the name of Haman from history.

This year the holiday coincided with the 27th anniversary of modern Lithuanian independence and the community didn’t neglect that holiday either, singing the Lithuanian national anthem (and Hatikvah).

With our feasting and fun we celebrated Purim according to all the Jewish traditions.

Purim at the Kaunas Jewish Community

Kauno žydų bendruomenės Purimo šventė

Members of the Kaunas Jewish Community celebrated Purim wishing one another good fortune, joy, success and inner and world peace. As in earlier years specially-baked homentashen added to the festivities. The Lithuanian Jewish Community’s social programs department and the Goodwill Foundation helped make the celebration possible.

Purim at the Panevėžys Jewish Community

Purim is the spring holiday when we celebrate the rescue of the Jews from death in Babylon. On March 12 the Panevėžys Jewish Community began the celebration with chairman Gennady Kofman reading the Purim story out loud, the Book of Esther from the Bible which tells of the destruction facing the Jews living in Babylon and the miracle of their rescue due to the efforts of queen Esther, the Jewish wife of the Persian king. Not only were the Jews saved, they defeated the king’s evil vizier Haman who chose the day for the destruction of the Jews by casting lots, but who was himself punished. Many children attended the Panevėžys Jewish Community’s Purim celebration. There was a dining table for children, the children put on plays and watched films and concerts in connection with Jewish history. Purim is the happiest Jewish holiday and there was much song and much laughter. Everyone received a small gift as well.

Bagel Shop Café Wishes You a Happy Purim and Offers Traditional Holiday Foods

Hag Purim sameakh!

The Bagel Shop this week offers vegetarian bebelakh. During the Purim holiday period we are also making a variety of delicious treats including hamentashen and serving wine. We are making vegetarian dishes in honor of Queen Esther, who was a vegetarian. The Bagel Shop is located at Pylimo street no. 4 at street level in Vilnius.

Bean bebelakh, a recipe from Riva Portnaja’s mother Sara Berienė

Sara always made this dish for the Purim holiday where all dishes were vegetarian in honor of Queen Esther.

Soak a liter of large beans overnight, boil in salted water for a long time until they go soft. Served cold sprinkled with salt. Simple and delicious!

Free Hamentashen for Kids!


Children who come into the Bagel Shop Café in Purim masks or who say the secret code phrase–Hag Purim sameakh!–will receive a small gift.

This week Jews in Vilnius and around the world are baking the pastry called hamentashen, aka Haman’s ears, engage in an exchange of gift bags or Purim baskets of food and drink called mishloakh manot and put on the best parties of the year. Purim is the one holiday where adult Jews are allowed to get drunk and it considered customary to do so.

Our Litvak hamentashen are made with yeast according to recipes from families of Lithuanian Jewish Community members. Head baker Riva Portnaja tells how in her family they called hamantashen “ormentashen,” and her mother always added yeast to the dough. Classical Litvak hamantashen only used poppy seeds for filling and the triangles forming the base and top of the pastry are almost sealed close.

For more, see this facebook page.

A Big Thank-You for Making Kaziukas Fair Such a Success

17098700_1437182829647139_7414218332616588683_nRiva ir Estera

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky thanks everyone who helped make the Bagel Shop stand such a success at the annual Vilnius event this year, the Kaziukas Fair which began way back in the 17th century.

For their help, a big thank-you goes to Dovilė Rūkaitė, Rokas Dobrovolskisi, Riva Portnaja, Valentina Kot-Osipian, Gražina Pečkuvienė, Michailas Tarasovas and all the volunteers, including Simona Glazkova, Neta and Naomi Alon, Estera Reches, Vincentas Dobrovolskis, Asta Rainytė and her daughter, Elzė Rasimavičiūtė, Justė Čeičytė, Elena Grašytė, Daniela Mendelevič, Akvilė Ferguson and Geoff.

Bagel Shop Offers Fairgoers Matzo Kneydlakh

Maca kneidelach – kultinis žydiškas sultinys Vilniaus Rotušės aikštėje

The Bagel Shop Café will be on site again this year for the annual Kaziukas (St. Casimir) Fair in Vilnius March 3-5 with a new menu item rarely seen in Lithuania but an old Jewish favorite: matzo ball soup!

Besides matzo kneydlakh (matzo-ball dumpling) soup, visitors to the Bagel Shop Café stand will also be served fresh bagels with a variety of spreads. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and support the team!

Matzo-ball soup recipe from Nina Sondakaitė-Mandelshtam, originally from Vilnius now living in Israel:

½ cup matzo flour (or ground matzo bread crumbs)
½ cup boiled water
1 egg
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil or chicken fat
salt, pepper to taste

Mix the matzo flour or crumbs with the water. Pour in beaten egg, mix, add oil or fat. Boil chicken broth. With moistened hands form matzo balls about 5 cm in diameter, boil in the broth. If you want the broth to be clear, boil the balls in water and then place in a bowl and cover with broth. If there are left-over matzo balls, cut them in half the next day and cook, eat with sour cream.

Bagel Shop’s First Customer Still Loves It


The Bagel Shop Café is celebrating its first birthday and asked its most loyal customer who came in the very first day and still visits often for her thoughts. Violeta Palčinskaitė is a poet, playwright, scene designer and translator, but is perhaps best known as a writer of children’s books. Several generations have grown up loving her poems and stories.

“Of course I have been visiting the Bagel Shop from the first day. It’s comfortable and feels like home, and the bagels really remind me of the baronkos of my childhood, which mother used to coat in half and spread with butter. Memories gently returned when I tasted that first bagel. The important thing is that you will something here which you will nowhere else! I like spending time here because all other cafés are more or less the same, but here you make real Jewish treats thanks to the creative women in charge who have inherited the food-making methods and can pass it on from generation to generation, and without whom that legacy would perish. I remember how I searched for the treat of my childhood, unsweetened baronkos, but it was never the same. Traveling in foreign countries, I once discovered the bagel in America, then in Israel, and I was overjoyed. That’s why I find it a very happy thing to come to the Bagel Shop in the center of Vilnius, besides which, it has the very best coffee which I have ever had in the city.

“I like the atmosphere, the café is cozy, it feels like being at home. I come often, whenever I can, and it doesn’t matter if beigalakh were supposed to be for breakfast or lunch. I can eat bagels day and night. My favorite is the bagel and lox, and with sprat, another smoked fish. I like the teiglakh the most, and I bring friends from Vilnius and foreign visitors in. They are very satisfied. I told my friend about the best coffee just last night. So let them all come and sample, and not just the coffee,” Palčinskaitė said, asked what draws her to the Bagel Shop.


Currently she has many meetings with her readers. Her book “Atminties babilonai, arba aš vejuos vasarą” is one of the selections for Book of the Year. It’s a collection of memories from her happy childhood home in Kalvarija. It’s a complex testimony of the Soviet era and self-deprecating look at her own daily life as a writer, and stories about important Lithuanian cultural figures.

Palčinskaitė says it’s difficult to find time for all the meetings with readers. “Readers who would vote for my book are waiting for me. And the Book Fair is coming soon, the meetings are increasing, and there isn’t enough time to go to the Bagel Shop today,” she told us.

State-of-the-Art Jewish Museum Planned in Šeduva

Preliminary design concept for the Lost Shtetl Museum

Plans have been announced for a state-of-the-art Jewish museum scheduled to open in 2019 as part of the Lost Shtetl memorial complex in Šeduva, Lithuania.

The museum complex is to be designed by the Finnish company Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects who also designed the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. POLIN won the 2016 European Museum of the Year Award. They are towork together with local partner Studia2A established in 1994 and headed by Vilnius Art Academy dean of architecture Jonas Audejaitis.

The museum is to be located next to the sprawling Šeduva Jewish cemetery, completely restored and opened in 2015 as part of the memorial complex. The complex includes memorials at three sites of Holocaust mass murders and mass grave sites and a symbolic sculpture in the middle of the town. A study of the Jews of Šeduva was conducted as part of the project and is to result in a documentary film called Petrified Time by film director Saulius Beržinis.

Memorial statue in Šeduva. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Sergey Kanovich, founder of the Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund, said the Lost Shtetl Museum will employ advanced technologies to teach visitors the history and culture of Šeduva and similar Litvak shtetls. It is expected to serve as an educational and cultural center.

“Visiting the Lost Shtetl will be a history lesson which will allow national and international visitors to learn about the lost Litvak shtetl history and culture,” he said.

“Lifestyle, customs, religion, social, professional, and family life of Šeduva Jews will serve a center point of the Museum exhibition,” he said. Visitors to museum will learn “the tragedy of Šeduva Jewish history which in the early days of World War II ended in three pits near the shtetl.”

Sole Jewish Survivor of Holocaust in Šilalė Says Old Jewish Cemetery Cattle Pasture Now

Until World War II, the majority of the residents of the western Lithuanian town of Šilalė were Jews. The brick synagogue was built sometime around 1910 to 1914 at what is now the corner of V. Kudirkos street and Maironio street. There is a hardware store there now. The old Jewish cemetery is now pasture for livestock, with just the Holocaust mass murder site next to it fenced off.


Lithuanian Jewish Community member Ruvin Zeligman is the sole survivor of approximately 1,500 Šilalė Jews murdered in the Holocaust. He was 10 when World War II began in Lithuania in 1941.

Although he hasn’t lived in Šilalė for many years now, when he speaks he still falls into the western Lithuanian dialect. His wife also comes from the region and they speak in dialect at home.

Zeligman remembers the great fire which ravaged the town in 1939, burning down his family home and the entire street, taking a terrible toll on the town’s mainly wooden buildings.

How do you remember Šilalė when you lived there with your parents and family?

At that time about 60% of Šilalė’s population was Jewish. My father was a religious figure: the cantor, mohel [performer of circumcision], a religious teacher and a reznik [a man educated in the rules of kosher slaughter]. My father graduated from the famous Telz yeshiva. He was a respected man and he helped the local residents of Šilalė with his knowledge of medicine, healing the sick. There were four of us children in the family. Mother took care of the home and the children. We lived well, back then each of us, the four children, had a golden goblet at home and mother used to bring out a silver candleholder for holidays.

Zeligmanas Ruvinas2
Zeligman lights candles for the murdered Jews of Šilalė at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

Looking Forward to the Bagel Shop Café’s First Birthday

photo: Vidmantas Balkūnas /

The Bagel Shop Café is gradually becoming an unofficial Lithuanian Jewish Community tourism center. Although there is an official tourism center in Vilnius, it’s not as successful. So if you want to get the newest information about what to see, what to taste and with whom to speak, you’ll likely find it at the shop at Pylimo street no. 4. It should be noted it wasn’t supposed to serve this function. In 2014 the project, still in draft form, was born as a tolerance campaign against public expressions of anti-Semitism and hate. But in the end it became a real, cozy place.


Full story in Lithuanian here.