Religion

A Shadow over Europe: CNN Poll Reveals Depth of Anti-Semitism in Europe

A Shadow over Europe: CNN Poll Reveals Depth of Anti-Semitism in Europe

European Jewish Congress

Dear Presidents,
Dear Friends,

We would like to draw your attention on the findings of the CNN Poll on Antisemitism in Europe.

Please find below some of the most appalling results:

–According to the poll, more than a quarter of Europeans surveyed believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Nearly one in four said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world.

–One in five said they have too much influence in the media and the same number believe they have too much influence in politics.

–A third of Europeans polled said they knew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust.

Hanukkah Celebration for Children

The Dubi Mishpokha, Dubi and Ilan Clubs of the Lithuanian Jewish Community invite children and parents to a Hanukkah celebration at 12 noon on December 2, 2018, at the Future Live room located at Upės street no. 2 in Vilnius.

Please register by 11:30 A.M. on November 30 by sending an email to sofja@lzb.lt or by calling Sofja at 867257450, Alina at 869522959 or Margarita at 861800577.

See you there!

This Hanukkah is Our 30th Birthday

This Hanukkah is Our 30th Birthday

This Hanukkah marks the 30th birthday of the restoration of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. The LJC will celebrate Hanukkah on December 9 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Vilnius with a concert by Gefilte Drive from Israel. Tickets cost 15 euros. For more information and to register, call 467881514 or stop by the LJC at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius. Students can get a discount by calling Amit at 869227326 and senior citizens who are clients of the LJC’s Social Programs Department can as well by calling Žana at 867881514.

We hope to see you there!

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community to Celebrate Birthday with Hanukkah

The Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community is celebrating its 30th anniversary together with Hanukkah on December 8 at the Šiauliai Arena Conference Hall located at Jablonskio street no. 16. Tickets cost 10 euros for adults, 5 for senior citizens and children under 13 are to be admitted free of charge. Those wishing to attend should contact Antonina at the Community by November 30.

Hanukkah in Panevėžys

The Panevėžys Jewish Community invites you to come celebrate Hanukkah. At 4:00 P.M. on December 2 Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky will light the menorah on Independence Square in Panevėžys, after which the Panevėžys Jewish Community at Ramygalos street no. 18 will host a celebration including food, games and dancing.

Second Hanukkah Candle

Second Hanukkah Candle

The Vilnius Jewish Religious Community invites you to attend the lighting of the second Hanukkah candle December 3, at Vincas Kudirka Square in Vilnius at 5:30 P.M., and again at 6:30 P.M. at the Choral Synagogue.

Parliamentary Cultural Committee Considers Jewish Heritage Issues

Parliamentary Cultural Committee Considers Jewish Heritage Issues

A sitting of the Lithuanian parliament’s Cultural Committee November 14 addressed Litvak heritage. The meeting was held at the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Musum in Vilnius with committee chairman Ramūnas Karbauskis attending.

Three main issues were discussed:

1. Further expansion and financing of the Vilna Gaon Museum
2. Jewish heritage issues
3. Restoration of the Great Synagogue in Vilnius

MP Emanuelis Zingeris proposed a resolution for the restoration of the Great Synagogue at the meeting. The Lithuanian Jewish Community expressed a different position. LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said Lithuanian Jews are not asking and never had asked for the rebuilding of the Great Synagogue using state funds. She further noted that currently the LJC is engaged in studying other methods and problems in commemoration and preservation, having been tasked with drafting a study on Jewish heritage by the Lithuanian Government.

Kaunas Jewish Community News for October

Kaunas Jewish Community News for October

In October the Kaunas Jewish Community experienced moments of celebration and painful losses, and commemorated the past.

The most momentous event in October was the celebration of the Community’s 30th birthday with a concert. The Kaunas State Philharmonic hosted the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra accompanied by harpist Gabrielė Ašmontaitė, baritone Stein Skjervold and VilhelmasČepinskis on violin. Orchestra art director Mindaugas Bačkus presented a rich program of well-known and lesser-known works by Jewish and Litvak composers of different times and in different genres. He both played cello and presented the event.

The historian Linas Venclauskas told the audience about the history of the Jewish community and current events. He spoke about the Litvak contribution to Lithuania and together with KJC chairman Gercas Žakas presented thank-you letters from the Kaunas mayor and municipal culture department to long-standing and outstanding members of the Community, including Fruma Kučinskienė, Judita Mackevičienė, Motelius Rozenbergas, Basia Šragiene, Julijana Zarchi, Simonas Dovidavičius and Gercas Žakas himself.

Hanukkah Coming Soon

Hanukkah Coming Soon

Hanukkah is coming soon and several events are already scheduled. On December 2 there will be a Hanukkah celebration for children at 12 noon at I Future Live, located at Upės street no. 9 in Vilnius. A Hanukkah celebration for the whole family will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Konstitucijos prospect no. 20 on December 9, with music by the Israeli neo-klezmer band Gefilte Drive. More information to follow.

Reflections in a Broken Mirror Exhibit Opens

Reflections in a Broken Mirror Exhibit Opens

The exhibit Reflections in a Broken Mirror detailing Litvak life in the period between the two world wars opened at the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library November 12. Judaica Research Center director Dr. Lara Lempert presented the exhibit, talking about Jewish social life, modern art, literature, books, reading culture, publishing and medicine in the interwar period. The rich collection of multimedia exhibits presents Lithuanian and Vilnius Jewish life including the social welfare and medical system, education, art, learning and literature. It also demonstrates the importance of the Lithuanian and Vilnius Jewish communities in the context of world Jewry.

Commission for Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad Chairman Visits Lithuania

Commission for Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad Chairman Visits Lithuania

United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad chairman Paul Packer has visited the Lithuanian Jewish Community during his trip to Lithuania from November 6 to 8 to discuss Jewish heritage issues in Lithuania and participated in a prayer service at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius where he discussed the need for a mikvah with members of the Community. Chairman Packer also visited the Zavl shul on Gėlių street in Vilnius, currently undergoing renovation.

It was due to Packer’s initiative and concern that an information stand was erected to mark the old Jewish cemetery in the Šnipiškės neighborhood of Vilnius. He and members of the Vilnius municipality discussed future commemoration of the Jewish cemetery during his most recent trip to Lithuania. Packer visited the Jewish cemetery on Olandų street in Vilnius and said it, too, needs more information for visitors. He also visited the only working Jewish cemetery in Vilnius on Sudervės road.

In Kaunas Packer visited the Hassidic synagogue building which, if restored, could serve the needs of Lithuania’s second largest Jewish community and Israeli exchange students living in Kaunas. The chairman expressed unpleasant surprise at the state of the old Jewish cemetery in the Žaliakalnis neighborhood of Kaunas where a number of notable Jewish religious and cultural figures are buried. Many of the headstones are broken and overturned in the cemetery near the city’s center, and Packer said this didn’t serve to demonstrate the city’s pride in its rich Jewish history. LJC representatives also contacted the appropriate institutions regarding technical problems with video surveillance at the cemetery.

Eightieth Anniversary of Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938

Eightieth Anniversary of Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938

Today marks 80 years since Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass when Nazis in Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland went on an organized rampage murdering Jews and looting, burning and destroying Jewish businesses and synagogues. The pogrom of unprecedented scale was supposed to leave shattered glass in streets around the Third Reich, like crystals, and the staged event even had an official name, Reichskristallnacht. For many Jews and Germans it marked the beginning of the Holocaust, with hundreds murdered, thousands wounded and many women raped by the brownshirts. In leadership circles the Nazis actually called it the Week of Broken Glass. Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels issued an order on the evening of November 9, 1938, calling for “spontaneous demonstrations” to be “organized and executed” that night. Reinhard Heydrich, second in command in the SS after Himmler, was in charge of operations at the street level. The Nazis overplayed their hand and forced themselves into a corner: following Kristallnacht, insurance claims threatened to bankrupt a large number of German insurers, leading the Nazis to seek desperately for an early, financial Final Solution.

Nazi Germany’s “break-the-glass moment” led to the seizure of Jewish property and Jews who were sent to concentration camps. In just over two years the Holocaust began in Lithuania as well, where between 140,000 and 150,000 people were murdered in just three months.

Celebrating Vidmantė Jasukaitytė’s 70th Birthday

Celebrating Vidmantė Jasukaitytė’s 70th Birthday

The Lithuanian Writers Union is holding a birthday party for the late writer Vidmantė Jasukaitytė from 5:30 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, November 8, 2018. The event will be held at the Writers Club located at K. Sirvydo street no. 6 in Vilnius and is open and free to the public. The program includes a reading of Jasukaitytė’s “The Sixth Commandmant: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Subačiaus Street. The Ghetto” based on her experience living at the former HKP Nazi labor camp in Vilnius, set to music and performed by Arkadijus Gotesmanas on percussion and Dimitrijus Golovanovas on piano. Jasukaitytė’s daughter Kunigunda, an artist in her own right, and a number of notable Lithuanian writers and poets are to attend and speak.

Renaissance Photo Exhibit at Pakruojis Wooden Synagogue

Renaissance Photo Exhibit at Pakruojis Wooden Synagogue

by Vilijus Žagrakalys (pictured above)

Renaissance, an exhibition of photographs at the Pakruojis synagogue from November 10 to 30, 2018, with the opening at 5:00 P.M. on November 9.

Everything that’s old comes back around. The 19th century was the period when photography began and flourished. The application of various techniques for forming an image on a plate progressed from wet-plate collodion to silver compound gelatin which dominated until the advent of digital cameras. The silver process gave rise to a surge in photography studios which captured portraits of their time in single and group portraiture. All sorts of visual photo albums were made. Silver gelatin emulsion was relatively easy to get and made this possible.

At around the same time the platinum method was discovered, dated at 1873 in the history of photography. William Willis patented the method in 1881. He received official awards for this in Great Britain in 1885. The method was popular until World War I, when platinum acquired greater value, and the technique gradually dropped out of use.

Around 1970 the technique was revived in the USA. It is now known as the king of the printing process.

When I began to get interested in photography techniques, I attempted to print several photographs. After much experimentation I seized upon the platinum/palladium method. The fragments of photographs in this exhibition were printed using this method.

Inside the Swarm on Jewish Street: Poverty and Prayer

Inside the Swarm on Jewish Street: Poverty and Prayer

The current city government talks about the density of population in the city center, but they should look back into history when, before World War II, there were from between 200 and 500 residents living in every building on Jewish Street. The most highly-populated buildings in Vilnius. Although it’s difficult today for us to imagine a building with ten people living in every apartment, that’s how it was in the Jewish Street neighborhood. In the 19th century and the period between the two world wars, Jewish Street was the Jewish center and axis, known not just for the number of its inhabitants but also for its abundance of houses of prayer. The buildings were filled to overflowing with shops and different venues for study and entertainment.

Full article in Lithuanian here.

Discussion on Prospects for Jewish Heritage Conservation

Discussion on Prospects for Jewish Heritage Conservation

The Lithuanian Jewish Community held a discussion October 24 about Jewish heritage protection from the present till 2020, about the priority tasks and goals in the context of 2020 being named the Year of the Vilna Gaon and the Year of Litvak History. The discussion mainly focused on the former Great Synagogue in Vilnius and how to protect what remains of it.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, members of the Community, US embassy adviser on political and economic matters Shai Moore and foreign members of the LJC’s own heritage group, including Lyudmila Sholokhova (YIVO), Assumpcio Hosta (AEPJ) and Sergey Kravtsov (Hebrew University), took part in the discussion.

Chairwoman Kukliansky reminded participants Jewish heritage is important to the Lithuanian state and everyone concerned with heritage conservation, as well as to Jews. Discussions have been going on for years about how to protect the Great Synagogue site, the LJC’s role in that process and what to do with the school there, under which archaeologists last summer unearthed a portion of the synagogue’s central bimah. The situation is complex concerning the site: the school was scheduled for demolition but this year it was leased for two years to several organizations. There is clearly a commercial interest in this special location, Kukliansky noted.

It’s difficult to find experts in Vilnius who could be asked how best to commemorate the Great Synagogue, so the arrival of the international group of heritage specialists, their participation in LJC meetings, their perspectives and discussion of these perspectives is an important event.

Neringa Latvytė-Gustaitienė, the head of the history department at the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, said the Great Synagogue of Vilnius is not just a symbol belonging to Lithuania, but to all Jews of Eastern Europe. It is a priority heritage site but sadly there hasn’t been any break through in the cultural community on this issue, she added.

Choral Synagogue Commemorates Jews Murdered in Pittsburgh

Choral Synagogue Commemorates Jews Murdered in Pittsburgh

The Jews murdered in the tragedy in Pittsburgh were commemorated on Monday, October 29, at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius, Lithuania. Lithuanian Jews expressed their solidarity with American Jews and lit candles in remembrance of the victims.

Members of the Lithuanian Government came to pay their respects along with foreign diplomats and non-Jewish members of the public as well. Lithuanian Government chancellor Deividas Matulionis, deputy Lithuanian foreign minister Darius Skusevičius and Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris attended, as did a number of ambassadors to Lithuania.

United States ambassador to Lithuania Anne Hall said: “I never though these kinds of mass murders could happen in the USA. We have to all we can so similar sorts of tragedies don’t happen.”

Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon and Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris spoke about unacceptable anti-Semitism and the ideology of hatred.

Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas said: “It’s difficult to imagine a more horrible and cynical crime than murder committed during Sabbath prayers.”

Choral Synagogue rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky said: “Despite the tragedy of this terrorism, we must be stronger in our faith, to follow G_d’s commandments, because over the ages religion has inculcated the eternal values in people, the universal morality of man, upon which this challenge has trampled.”

Choral Synagogue cantor Shmuel Yatom sang the prayer Merciful G_d in memory of the victims.

Rabbi Sacks Issues Statement on Pittsburgh Attack at Tree of Life Synagogue

Rabbi Sacks Issues Statement on Pittsburgh Attack at Tree of Life Synagogue

Upon hearing the horrific news of the attack in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Rabbi Sacks issued the following statement:

The deadly attack inside a synagogue earlier today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has pierced the heart of Jewish communities worldwide. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones–may they be comforted among all the other mourners of Zion. I wish those injured a complete recovery, both physically and mentally, from this traumatic ordeal.

This attack, which is being reported as the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States, is a tragic reminder that, somehow, within living memory of the Holocaust, we still live in a world where anti-Semitism exists and deadly attacks on Jews take place.

The fact this attack happened inside a synagogue, whose name is the Tree of Life, makes it all the more horrific. The synagogue is a place where people come together, in peace, to celebrate and give thanks for all we have, above all for God’s greatest gift, life.

Today lives were lost and shattered. We are the people who were commanded by Moses to “choose life” and ever since, despite the tragedies of our history, past and present, have always striven to choose life and sanctify life. That is what the community of Pittsburgh will now do, and Jewish communities around the world will support them as they rebuild and remember the lives lost.

Text of statement here.

Vigil for Pittsburgh Victims at the Choral Synagogue Tonight

B”H

Saturday morning during Sabbath services an extremist opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, shouting “All Jews must die” and killing eleven worshipers. At least another six people were wounded, including police officers who entered the synagogue to stop the shooting.

The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius will hold a vigil to express the deep loss we feel and to express solidarity with the Pittsburgh Jewish community today, October 29, at 6:00 P.M.

Everyone is invited to come a light a candle in memory of the victims.

Vilnius Jewish Religious Community
Lithuanian Jewish Community
Lithuanian Jewish Religious Association