Jewish song and dance ensemble Fajerlech

A Letter of Thanks to the Fayerlakh Ensemble from the Lithuanian Jewish Community

Celebrating their 45th anniversary, the Jewish song and dance ensemble Fayerlakh provided a real celebration for the people of Vilnius with their performance, and a packed hall of spectators applauded, swayed to the beat and tapped their feet because the musicians enchanted them and warmed everyone’s hearts. The Lithuanian Jewish Community is grateful to and proud of the Vilnius Cultural Center Jewish song and dance ensemble Fayarlakh, whose name is Yiddish for “little flames.”

Let the creative fire of this ensemble led by Larisa Vyšniauskienė continue to burn, reminding everyone of the rich culture of the Litvaks. It is extremely important to our community that the ensemble with Yiddish songs and dances which over many years has achieved a highly professional level has preserved our dear Jewish cultural legacy. Thank you, our thanks to the ensemble and their director, to the wonderful performers, for the program The Shtetl Once Upon a Time, which is now being offered to audiences in Lithuania and abroad. The program is about the small town, or shtetl in Yiddish, where until the Holocaust Jewish people and people of other ethnicities lived together in harmony. The mood of the concert is one of happy songs, dances, music which gives rise to good emotions, nostalgic and exciting, in everyone’s hearts. We appreciate that the ensemble celebrates the Yiddish language and that Jewish works in this language are performed in concert. It fills us with gladness to see all the ensemble’s groups, from children to senior citizens, on stage. Our sincerest gratitude to all of you.

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

Purim at the Gesher Club

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The Gesher Club of the Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated Purim March 25 at the Natali Restaurant in Vilnius. Since carnival costumes are a usual part of Purim, all participants were required to come in costume or at least partially dressed in costumes. LJC program coordinator Žana Skudovičienė took care of those who for one or another reason were unable or did not have time to get ready for the holiday. She let them chose a mask or costume accessory provided by Fayerlakh ensemble director Larisa Vyšniauskienė for the occasion.

LJC Children’s Purim Was the Most Fun

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This isn’t the first time LJC Youth Programs coordinator Pavelas Guliakovas has organized a holiday celebration. This year he decided there should be costume play based on excerpts from the Book of Esther with all the heroes and villains: the Persian king, Haman, Esther and all the others. But there were also samurai, cowboys, doctors and princesses. The entire play was performed in rhyme. During the breaks between acts, the children rushed off to change masks, apply glitter and use it as coloring, then came back to the performance space. Dancers from the Fayerlakh ensemble danced. All of the children and several of the parents as well had grown up attending the small children’s club Dubi, and Dubi, Dubi Mishpakha and Ilan Club children aged 2 to 12 took part in the Purim celebration. Samuel Gar, a professional teacher of Jewish dance, taught dances to the children. Their performance was amazing and the celebration lasted for about two hours.

Purim at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

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There was a celebration of the Purim holiday at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius March 24, which was also proclaimed a day of mourning in Lithuania to pay honors to the dead in the bombings in Brussels. Everyone observed a moment of silence for the victims at the synagogue.

Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas presented holiday greetings to the assembled and spoke about the meaning of Purim: Haman’s attempt to kill all the Jews. “History has seen more than one Haman, who sought to destroy the Jewish people. Stalin, Hitler and now ISIS, but no one has succeeded,” Levinas said.

Rabbi Samson Daniel Isaacson also gave holiday greetings and said Purim is a unique holiday which is about getting drunk, which seems strange, since this is considered a bad thing among Jews. “Only during Purim is it remembered that salvation comes from affliction. After all, getting drunk was suggested so that no one would be able to tell the difference between Haman and Mordecai. And it so happens that way often in life, when you think one thing, but it happens another way. Purim sameach!”

Fayerlakh ensemble musicians Miša Filipov Jablonskis and Leonardas Zinkevič performed a rousing set of Purim songs for young and old.

LJC deputy chairwoman Maša Grodnik said she was glad that things were finally getting back to normal at the synagogue and that the holiday was being celebrated with a rabbi, which for a long time was missing from the community. “Today the tragic events in Brussels remind us that Israel is setting an example for Europe on how to protect society,” Grodnik commented.

Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon recalled how he looked forward to Purim as a child, and that it always began to rain when Purim came around. “Today in Vilnius on Purim the sun was shining, and we are celebrating the liberation of the Jews. The victory of the Jews of Lithuania that they can celebrate in their own synagogue,” the Israeli ambassador remarked.

More snapshots from the event here.

Purim in Panevėžys

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The Panevėžys Jewish Community kicked off their Purim celebrations in the events hall of the Panevėžys Community Center March 20. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman greeted a large party of guests from Vilnius, Ukmergė, Šiauliai and Panevežys and read an excerpt from Magilat Ester.

Artūras Taicas, deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and chairman of the Ukmergė Jewish Community, greeted guests as well and passed on the good wishes of LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky. Panevėžys city deputy mayor Petras Luomanas and city council member Alfonsas Petrauskas also gave wonderful addresses.

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Fayerlakh Concert

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The Jewish song and dance Ensemble celebrate their 45th anniversary with a concert at the Russian Drama Theater in Vilnius. The concert is scheduled for 6:00 P.M. on March 22. Tickets cost 12 euros for the general public, 9 euros for Community members and 2 euros for students and senior citizens. To purchase tickets, see here.

Fayerlakh Concert and Bagel Shop at the Kaziukas Fair in Vilnius

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The opening of Vilnius’s annual street fair will feature a concert by the Jewish song and dance ensemble Fayerlakh, at 5:00 P.M. at the Vilnius Old Town Hall square. The group is promising a whole range of music and performances, including a traditional Sabbath prayer and song.

Don’t forget, the Bagel Shop Café will also be at the fair on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. LJC staff, members and volunteers are all invited to come and help sell Jewish bagels during the fair. It should be a lot of fun and this year the annual street fair will include a Jewish shtetl section.

Hundredth Anniversary of Birth of Vladas Varčikas, Rescuer of Jews, Teacher, Violinist

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The Kaunas Jewish Community and the Sugihara Foundation “Visas for Life” invited friends who knew Vladas Varčikas and all who wanted to pay their respects to this gigantic figure, a rescuer of Jews, humanitarian, teacher and violinist, to celebrate hsi 100th birthday with a concert in the Grand Hall at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. The hall was filled to capacity and overflowing despite the frozen weather.

Kaunas Jewish Community member Stasys Makštutis began to tell the story of Varčikas and the story was continued by his grandmother, Elena Andriuškevičienė, who was rescued from the Kaunas ghetto by Varčikas and survived to later become his colleague. Varčikas’s students, students of his students and their children performed music and shared their memories of the man. Actress Kristina Kazakevičiūtė, whose daughter was a student of Varčikas, read out director Kama Ginkas’s recollections of Varčikas, the man who saved him. She also read passages from Reinhard Kaiser’s book about Edwin Geist, whose compositions were rescued for posterity by Varčikas.