Programmes

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.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Celebrates Leonidas Melnikas’s Birthday

The Destinies program of evening cultural events celebrated the birthday of Lithuanian musician and composer Dr. Leonidas Melnikas last Thursday, May 11.

The evening began at the Jascha Heifetz hall at LJC headquarters in Vilnius with the airs of a tango, an overflow crowd and the birthday boy smiling on stage. Leonidas Melnikas is a piano player, organ player, musicologist, a tenured doctor, the head of his cathedral at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater, chairman of the academy’s senate and professor. He’s also a member of the board of directors of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. He turned 60 Thursday.

The birthday celebration was part of the Destinies program of evening cultural events initiated and organized by LJC deputy chairwoman Maša Grodnikienė, who used the occasion to honor the memory of Melnikas’s father Isaiah Melnik, who would have turned 110 that same day. He was a well-known pharmacist at the Vilnius Central Pharmacy (on what is now Gedimino prospect) and at the Žvėrynas Pharmacy in Vilnius, where he made his own preparations in his time. He survived both Stutthof and Dachau. He was beloved by all and was a calm and warm person who enjoyed attending all sorts of concerts. His son Leonidas’s musical career began when his mother took him to the Ąžuoliukas school. His first teacher was the famous pianist Nadežda Duksdulskaitė. “My entire childhood was illuminated by my parents, the very best, the very wisest people, and family remains extremely important to me,” Melnikas said of himself before embarking on a performance of tango melodies with violinist Boris Traub, cellist Valentinas Kaplūnas and accordion player Gennady Savkov.

Australian Human Rights Commish Meets Lithuanian Human Rights Coalition at LJC

Australian human rights commissioner of the Australian Human Rights Commission Edward Santow met with representatives of the Lithuanian Coalition of Human Rights Organizations at the Lithuanian Jewish Community May 11.

Santow is visiting Lithuania to learn more about NGOs operating in the field of human rights in Lithuania and about violations of human rights in the country. The visit to Lithuania and other partner states is part of Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

At the LJC meeting Santow said he was the first Jewish Australian human rights commissioner and expressed delight at how active the LJC is. He stressed the importance of inter-institutional cooperation in carrying out projects in human rights protection and advocacy and hailed the LJC’s latest project, “Drafting and Publicizing Recommendations for Combating Anti-Semitism and Romophobia in Lithuania,” with financing from EVZ in Germany.

Birthday Evening with Dr. Leonidas Melnikas at the Lithuanian Jewish Community

The organizers of the Destinies series of evening events are pleased to invite you to come celebrate the birthday of professor Leonidas Melnikas at the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Program:

Dr. Leonidas Melnikas on piano, Boris Traub on violin, Valentinas Kaplūnas on cello, Gennady Savkov on accordion

Participating:

Silvija Sondeckienė and composer Audronė Nekrošienė-Žigaitytė, president of the Union of Lithuanian Musicians.

Time: 6:00 P.M., Thursday, May 11
Location: Third floor, Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius

Event planned and moderated by Maša Grodnikienė, deputy chairwoman, Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Misha Breakfast Program at Choral Synagogue

Dear Community members,

Before his death, long-time client of the LJC Social Programs Department Avishalom Moishe Fishman left a last will and testament donating his savings to the Lithuanian Jewish Community who had cared for him in his latter years.

To honor Moishe Fishman’s wishes, LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky proposed using the funds for the needs of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius.

In furthering Jewish traditions of charity, it was decided with Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas to use the funds received to set up a free-breakfast program in the cafeteria on the second floor of the Choral Synagogue, Pylimo street no. 39, Vilnius.

Moishe lived alone and was a client of the Social Programs Department for about 18 years.

The Community and its members, and especially members of the seniors club, became his second home and family.

Let’s remember together this enlightened man beloved and honored by all who knew him.

For the first time a plaque will be placed on the wall of the synagogue to thank and remember a local philanthropist, rather than a donor from abroad.

Everyone knew him as Misha, so this has been dubbed “Misha’s Breakfast Project.” It will begin Monday, May 15. The breakfast program will take place at the synagogue from 9:00 to 10:00 A.M., Monday to Friday.

Happy Birthday to Eta Gurvičiūtė

Eta was an active member of the Community for many years and worked at the medical consulting center at the LJC. Her birthday is on April 27.

Dear Eta, the Lithuanian Jewish Community wishes you excellent health and as much warmth as you gave so many others over the years. May the coming years bring you happiness and joy, strength and hope. May you live to 120!

Goodwill Foundation Press Conference

Media are invited to a press conference following the April 27 meeting of the executive board of the Goodwill Foundation. The press conference will be held at 2:00 P.M. at the Narutis Hotel, Pilies street no. 24, Vilnius. Foundation chairs and other members of the executive board will attend.

Fun Passover Celebration at Šiauliai Jewish Community

On April 15 the Šiauliai Jewish Community celebrated Passover. Community chairman Josif Burštein welcomed participants and Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon and wife were the guests of honor, speaking about the story of Passover and the meaning behind eating matzo.

Lithuanian art critique, theater expert, writer and doctor of liberal arts Markas Petuchauskas also attended with his wife. The evening included performance of Jewish song and dance, provided by the benefactor Vadim Kamrazer.

Thanks go to the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s Social Programs Department and the Goodwill Foundation for making the wonderful holiday possible.

Silenced Shtetl of Divenishok Speaks Again

by Ieva Elenbergienė

A conversation with Dieveniškės Technological and Business School director Ilona Šedienė

Ilona, tell me about “your” Jews.

Today there are none left alive in Dieveniškės [Divenishok]. The amount of history we revive, that’s the amount we’ll have. The surviving historical material isn’t generous. We only know the center of Dieveniškės was one of many Lithuanian shtetls. In Jewish history a shtetl doesn’t mean just any town, the term is applied to towns where the Jewish population was truly large and was part of the life of the entire town. Most of ours were craftsmen. They also had their own synagogue, but the think was it was at the bottom of the hill so it didn’t stand above the Catholic church.

A significantly lesser amount of information remains about Dieveniškės than, say, Eišiškės [Eyshishok]. For those seeking information, the internet page Jews in Lithuania, zydai.lt, explains all shtetls in Lithuania were more or less similar. There was a customary order to life, a specific rhythm, and they were to a greater or lesser extent the same. Read about other ones and you’ll find they are similar to yours. But authenticity is always wanted… We’ve discovered material from local collectors, we’ve translated a portion of memoirs by Jews, and when we had a bit better picture put together, we staged an exhibit about the life, history and present situation of the Jews of Dieveniškės.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

#AtmintisAtsakomybeAteitis

Project supported by:
evz

Meet the Actors from the Vakhtangov Theater in Moscow


Scene from the Vakhtangov Theater’s performance of “Nusišypsok mums, Viešpatie” [Smile upon Us, O Lord”]

Dear Community members and friends,

You have an exceptional opportunity to meet the actors from the Y. Vakhtangov Theater in Moscow at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius at 11 A.M. on April 20, 2017.

These performers are the cast in Rimas Tuminas’s play Nusišypsok mums, Viešpatie” [Smile upon Us, O Lord”] based on the novels of Grigoriy Kannovitch.

For more about the play, see:
http://kultura.lrytas.lt/scena/j-vachtangovo-teatro-gastroles-lietuvoje-vytauto-sapranausko-atminimui.htm?utm_source=lrExtraLinks&utm_campaign=Copy&utm_medium=Copy

Tickets: http://www.bilietai.lt/lit/renginiai/teatras/jvachtangovo-teatras-nusisypsok-mumsviespatie-205800/

LJC Gešer and Kaveret Clubs Celebrate Purim

The Gešer and Kaveret Clubs of the Lithuanian Jewish Community held a joint Purim carnival/party last Friday. Since the party fell on the Sabbath, they kicked off the celebration with a Sabbath prayer by a young couple in the Kaveret Club.

The event was hosted by LJC program coordinator Žana Skudovičienė and Michailas Frišmanas. The theme was “hipsterism” from the 60s, 70s and 80s and participants were instructed to come dressed as hipsters from that era. There were skits performed on the story and traditions of Purim.

There was also a surprise in store for everyone: famous American cellist, composer and vocalist Ian Maksin showed up and performed. He said he was enthralled by the warm atmosphere and hospitality at the Lithuanian Jewish Community celebration.

South African Visitor at Panevėžys Jewish Community

Psychiatrist Danella Eliasov from the Republic of South Africa visited the Panevėžys Jewish Community March 16. Her grandparents, great-parents and relatives lived in Kupiškis where there was a large Jewish population before the Holocaust. Danella talked about her family and wanted to learn more about the fate of the Jews in Lithuania during the Holocaust. After a fruitful discussion she thanked Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman for the warm reception.

LJC Youth Clubs Celebrate Purim

Dear Community members,

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Vilnius Religious Jewish Community greet you on the upcoming holiday of Purim and invite you holiday celebrations on March 12.

The LJC youth clubs Ilan, Dubi and Dubi Mishpaha will hold a Purim celebration at 1:00 P.M. on March 12 on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Entrance is free but only those in costume and/or masks will be allowed in!

For more information contact Jelizaveta Šapiro at +370 65527411 or Pavel Guliakov at +370 68542463.

Ongoing Hommage à Heifetz Project Provides Chance to Learn More about Jewish Culture

A meeting called “Vilnius, Litvak Culture in the 19th and 20th Centuries and Jascha Heifetz” was held in Lithuanian at the Lithuanian Jewish Community on February 9, 2017. It was a chance to reflect both on the past, the deep Litvak roots in Lithuania and the greatest violinist of all time, but also on the present Lithuanian Jewish Community. Speakers included Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, deputy chairwoman Maša Grodnikienė, Eugenijus Laurinaitis, Leonidas Melnikas, Larisa Lempert ir Donatas Katkus and Silvija Sondeckienė.

“Jascha Heifetz’s secret of his achievements was not only a unique talent, but practice, practice and more practice. The notes of his violin are not governed by the years and his life and achievements are not those of a typical Vilnius Jew living in the Pale of Settlement of Tsarist Russia. Heifetz achieved greatness and reached the pinnacle of musical achievement in the world for all time, our fellow countryman, our fellow Vilnius resident, Jascha Heifetz,” Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky commented.

Snapshots from event on facebook.

A Mekhaye Winter Children’s Camp 2016

Camp6

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Joint Distribution Committee traditionally hold the A Mekhaye winter camp for Children and did so late last year in 2016 as well. The camp is held in Dubingiai, Lithuania. It usually includes about 90 children who spend the holiday period together. This year as in earlier years we assembled a great team, people who know their work and who have been part of camp staff for several years now.

This year the theme was “Hanukkah in the shtetl,” since the camp coincided with the holiday. Each day camp counselors introduced a new topic and taught the children about it. Besides just being fun, the camp is very educational, even if information comes through games, as it often does. The children and staff say they feel right at home in Dubingiai now, as if it were their second home.

Greetings from Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky

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Dear members of the Jewish community, greetings to all on this holiday of Hanukkah!

I hope good feelings and warm and pleasant moments with loved ones will accompany you as you light the first Hanukkah candle. I wish you health and concord in your family, and that our children would grow up safe, dignified and happy and be proud of their parents and their roots.

It is a happy thing that there is ever-growing interest in the rich history of the Jews, and I probably won’t be making a mistake to say that there was never so much interest in the Jewish community as there is now, although so few Jews are left in Lithuania. The Jewish Community works actively to insure the rights and freedoms of our members and to promote Jewish interests. Unfortunately we weren’t able to achieve all our goals in 2016, but we will continue to strive after them in the coming year: monuments to those who shot Jews need to be removed, and Vilnius needs to have a monument commemorating those who rescued Jews from the Holocaust. We will continue to work on the issue of restitution of private property.

The Jewish Community is investing in the future, issuing scholarships and stipends for Jewish students and accomplished athletes. Plans for a new kindergarten have been completed, a kindergarten which will insure Jewish values are passed down to the youngest members of our community and prepare them for further education at the Jewish school.

One of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s top priorities is to improve the living conditions of clients in our Social Programs Department. We help when emergencies and misfortune occur. This will remain our priority in 2017. We also help rescuers of Jews, whose humility and sincere gratitude encourage us to grow and improve. I would like to thank Jewish rescuer Regina for the gloves and socks she knitted.

The Community building itself has become lighter and cozier. We have new audio-visual equipment in the Community concert hall and there are always new and different exhibitions on display. It’s a great joy that there is cultural life, ferment and creativity in the community, and that performers from Lithuania, Israel, the USA, the Netherlands, Romania and other countries perform concerts here. It is also a happy occasion that we have deepened our contacts with the foreign embassies, other countries, municipal institutions and NGOs. Thanks to this cooperation legal amendments were finally adopted to make it easier for Litvaks to restore Lithuanian citizenship. We signed an agreement on cooperation with the American Jewish Committee, we are enjoying wonderful relations with other world Jewish organizations and we are expanding contacts in the West as well as in the East, with the Jewish communities in India and Japan.

Interest in religion is reviving as well. We have two rabbis working at the Community who give lessons educating young and old on various topics in Judaism.

In cooperation with international Jewish organizations and based on their recommendations, we have increased security at the Community and synagogue buildings, and are approaching western standards of security.

We have the only kosher café in Vilnius. The Bagel Shop has attracted significant attention and television crews from Canada, Germany and of course Lithuania, too, have featured the café. It has become a place where not only Jews gather, but also aficionados of Jewish cuisine and culture. Our challa-baking event was a good time for all, and US ambassador Anne Hall was enchanted by the experience. The Jewish languages project carried out with the Cultural Heritage Department attracted much attention by many residents of the Lithuanian capital and visitors from elsewhere. In greeting you all, I invite Community members to show even greater initiative and self-confidence in proposing ways to make their hopes and dreams come true, because the Community exists to benefit its members.

My holiday greetings go out as well to Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon and the chairmen of the regional communities: Gennady Kofman, Gercas Žakas, Artūras Taicas, Feliksas Puzemskis, Moisej Šapiro and Josifas Buršteinas. Thank you all for the active roles you play and for working together.

Khag Khanuka Sameakh!

Holiday Performance by Bubble Theater for Children in Jewish Family Services Program

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A holiday performance by the Bubble Theater from Ukraine took place at the Dance Theater last Saturday, December 17. The “Soap Opera” was the first and so far the only appearance by the troupe in Lithuania, combining humorous stories and dialogue with a lively display of soap bubbles, enchanting the audience with their special effects. Thanks to the financial support of the Goodwill Foundation, children in the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s social program were able to experience the unique event. This time we had participants from as far away as Kaunas. A total of 50 children and their parents in the program attended the event.

Dubi Club Announcement

Dear parents and Dubi Club members,

Club activities won’t be held on November 27, 2016. The next activities will be on December 4, 2016.

We remind you Dubi Club is for 4-6-year-olds.

Club activities usually take place every Sunday from 11:00 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.

For more information, please contact Dubi Club coordinator Margarita Koževatova by telephone: +370 618 00577

A Mehaye Winter Camp 2016!

Dear parents, please register now for your children to attend the annual A Mehaye winter camp, organized every winter by the Lithuanian Jewish Community with the financial support of the Joint Distribution Committee. Children and youngsters aged 7 to 17 are invited to come, have fun, make new friends, see old ones and learn while they’re at it! The camp is scheduled for December 24 to 30.

To register, or for more information, please contact:

soniakaplan@mail.ru
telephone +37067257540

Happy Birthday, Maša Grodnikienė!

Happy birthday, Maša!

Lithuanian Jewish Community deputy chairwoman Maša Grodnikienė is celebrating her 70th birthday! Maša is the initiator and intellectual force behind many of the cultural events held by the Community and has been deputy chairwoman for over 20 years now. Thanks to her the first World Litvak Congress was held in Vilnius in 2001, marking a turning point within the Community and the renaissance of Litvak culture in Lithuania. Maša has contributed so very much to fostering Litvak culture within the Community and in the world.

On the occasion of her birthday, the Community has nothing but the most heart-felt words to say to Maša. We congratulate her on her birthday and wish her the best health, joy at home with her grandchildren, many more creative initiatives in the Jewish Community, a great mood and many more warm moments in life. Happy birthday!

Mazl tov!