The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Vilnius Jewish Religious Community invite you to come celebrate Lag baOmer, the day of the unity of the Jewish people, at the fort next to the A1 Vilnius-Kaunas freeway 1 kilometer from Grigiškės at 6:00 P.M. on May 3. There will be music, a barbecue and activities for children including trampolines, face painting and shooting bows and arrows.
A presentation and ceremony to unveil a statue to commemorate Abraham Mapu will be held at 5:00 P.M. on May 3 in Kaunas. The ceremony will take place in the courtyard of the Ars et Mundus art gallery located at A. Mapu street no. 20 in Kaunas. The sculptor was Martynas Gaubas. The event will include Jewish music. Ars et Mundus is the author of the project and Artkomas and the Kaunas Jewish Community are partners.
Last Friday Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon celebrated Sabbath with the Kaunas Jewish Community. Everyone was impressed by the ambassador’s warmth, informal communication, good mood, improving skills in the Lithuanian language and his vocal abilities.
Ambassador Maimon said he found a happy, family atmosphere in Kaunas which he often misses on Friday evenings in Lithuania and shared his nostalgia for Sabbath in Israel, where you don’t have to consult the calendar to know the day has come.
The Vilnius municipality is preparing proposals for renovating the old Užupis Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. The municipality’s planning agency Vilnius Plan has hired architect Victoria Sideraitė-Alon for this purpose and she has performed an examination of the territory and has provided proposals on how best to showcase fragments of headstones desecrated by the Soviets.
Sideraitė-Alon’s creative group (Samuel Bak is the author of the main symbol, A. Šimanauskas is the creator/designer, A. Perelmuter is the Israeli architect and consultant) has proposed a project called Arch, which was unanimously approved by an international advisory group on heritage issues established at the Lithuanian Jewish Community and by artists and intellectuals including P. Morkus, M. Ivaškevičius, S. Beržinis, S. Valius and by the Jewish Religious Community and the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.
The Arch project proposal has not received the approval of the Vilnius Plan agency, which instead proposed a different project to commemorate the road blazed through the cemetery during the Soviet era, actually more of a ditch, called Kirkuto alley, but without any monument carrying a deeper semantic or emotional content. Instead, the alternate proposal is for arranging the headstones and fragments, more or less appearing now as stairs, in an artificial layer of soil above the parking lot where they are now housed to create the effect of a small “Jewish” graveyard there.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community has learned from media reports Kalev (Calev) Krelin, who was born and lived in Moscow, is carrying on activities in Lithuania presenting himself as Chief Rabbi of Lithuania, or at least he is being presented as such.
We would like to inform the public the office of chief rabbi was abolished several years ago as the hiring of new rabbis was taking place, and Kalev Krelin was never appointed to that office. At the current time there are no contractual ties between this person and the LJC or the Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community, and we give notice Kalev Krelin has no legal basis to act in the name of the LJC. Likewise, the LJC is not responsible in any way for agreements made by this person nor for the legal consequences arising from such agreements.
Natalja Cheifec presents a new lecture in Lithuanian on the Torah’s attitude towards medicine and human health.
You will hear about:
–Maimonides’s 33 suggestions for remaining healthy into old age;
–the connection between physical and spiritual health;
–does the Jewish worldview have a place for vegetarianism?
and much, much more about how to avoid illness and preserve common sense.
The lecture is to take place at 6:00 P.M. on April 18 on the second floor of the LJC. Admission is free but registration is requested via internet at goo.gl/JbypwU
The heritage issues advisory group of the Lithuanian Jewish Community has learned of plans for renovating the Užupis Jewish cemetery tendered by the Vilnius municipality and a composition called Arch made of desecrated headstone fragments used as stairs during the Soviet era.
The international creative team behind the Arch are architect Viktorija Sideraitė Alon, creator/designer Albinas Šimanauskas and Israeli architect consultant Anna Perelmuter. The composition uses a symbol created by the Litvak American painter Samuel Bak.
The heritage issues advisory group of the Lithuanian Jewish Community helps solve outstanding Lithuanian Jewish heritage issues professionally and effectively. The group includes Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, POLIN Polish Jewish museum advisor to the director and senior curator of exhibits; Assumpció Hosta, general secretary of the AEPJ; writer Sergejus Kanovičius, founder of Maceva and the Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund; professor James E. Young of University of Massachusetts, Near Eastern Studies, English, Judaism; Samuel Kassow, doctor of philosophy, POLIN senior researcher specializing in 19th century history and the history between the world wars; Lyudmila Sholokhova, PhD, YIVO director of archives and library; and Sergey Kravtsov, senior researcher, Jewish Art Center, Hebrew University.
Experts unanimously supported the artists’ idea for commemorating the Jewish cemetery and offered a number of useful suggestions and observations which will be taken into consideration.
This week members of the advisory group plan to discuss the project proposals with the mayor and city administration specialists.
Later the project ideas and visualizations will be presented to the public.
by AJC CEO David Harris
Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary this month. Let me put my cards on the table — I’m not dispassionate when it comes to Israel.
For centuries, Jews around the world prayed for a return to Zion. We are the lucky ones who have seen those prayers answered.
The establishment of the state in 1948; the fulfillment of its envisioned role as home and haven for Jews from anywhere and everywhere; its wholehearted embrace of democracy and the rule of law; and its impressive scientific, cultural, and economic achievements are extraordinary accomplishments.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community began marking Yom haShoa with a screening of the documentary film “My Vilnius” about centuries-old Jewish Vilna life snuffed out in the Holocaust.
Directors Saulius Beržinis and Vytautas Gradeckas and photographer Rimantas Dichavičius attended the screening on April 10. The soundtrack featured works by composer Anatolijus Šenderovas. At the same event an exhibit of works by graphic designer Ovidijus Talijūnas was also launched. Called “Manologas,” each picture features a letter of the Yiddish alphabet and an interpretation of the letter’s meaning.
The images of a lost world on screen with all the people, buildings, cemeteries and synagogues reminded the audience Vilnius was the Jerusalem of Lithuania before the Holocaust, sometimes called the spiritual center of Jewry. With that in mind, we listened intently on the eve of Holocaust Day, Yom haShoa, to photographer Rimantas Dichavičius who managed to capture something of what left after the Holocaust in Vilnius, namely, the Jewish cemetery on Olandų street destroyed in 1965.
Headstones were used as construction material and over the decades the approximately 10-hectare territory was overgrown with bushes and trees. The territory is currently being put in order and should feature a monument soon.
Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania
Honored chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community Faina Kukliansky,
I sincerely greet you personally and the Lithuanian Jewish Community on the occasion of the holiday of Passover.
The recollection of the remarkable pages of Jewish history allow us to take joy in the achievements which have been achieved over its long journey.
The liberation from the yoke of slavery in Egypt occupies a special place.
The holiday of Passover allows us to understand the value of the price of freedom and that the unity of the nation, of the community, is an essential precondition for not losing that freedom.
I greet the members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community a great holiday, in the spirit of joint effort and forgiveness towards one another.
With great honor and good wishes,
Gediminas Kirkilas, chairman of the European Affairs Committee, deputy speaker of parliament
Vilnius, April 2, BNS–Leaders from the Lithuanian municipality of Kalvarija have decided not to break off an agreement on the utilization of the synagogue complex there as they had planned and are considering how to continue with renovation, following a meeting with the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department.
Financing pathways using EU structural funds were presented to municipal leaders at the meeting with discussion of financing from the Cultural Heritage Department as well.
Under the project drafted by the LJC several years ago, the total cost of work to fix the synagogue complex came to just under 2 million euros, but no funding was found.
The municipality and the LJC signed a use agreement in 2014, under which the municipality pledged to protect and utilize appropriately the buildings until financing was found to begin restoration to adapt the complex for public cultural, educational and academic use, for tourism and other uses.
“We really don’t have this kind of money, this is a small municipality and we can’t save up such sums or spend that much on synagogues,” Kalvarija mayor Vincas Plikaitis told BNS.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community hosted a number of Passover seders Friday for all age groups and tastes. Besides the large hall of the Choral Synagogue, the LJC also put on a seder on the third floor of the Community building for the Gesher Club at the same time. Additionally, the Abi Men Zet Zich Club held a seder, and a seder is planned Thursday for members with children.
Žana Skudovičienė was MC and guided guests to their places at table. All seats except one were filled.
Laurina Todesaitė, a Hebrew teacher and expert in Jewish cuisine and traditions, among her other talents, introduced the Hagadah in Lithuanian and asked Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky to light the candles and to speak. Chairwoman Kukliansky lit the candles, said the blessing in Hebrew and welcomed celebrants briefly:
I would like to thank very much everyone who has come. It would be better if even more came, so many that we wouldn’t fit in the space. Perhaps we will remove this wall someday [indicates wall between hall and foyer] and then we can use the entire floor. Nonetheless I am very grateful to those who have come, and of course you didn’t come to listen to my speech. I want to say that Passover, besides all of its significance as [the holiday of] freedom and liberation, and whatever else, Passover is a family holiday. And if today you have come here, to our Jewish Community, I think the people who have turned out consider themselves a large family. I would like that family to grow, and that as many people as possible would contribute, so that our family would raise more children, gain more friends, more acquaintances, and bring more Jews here, into our Community. So I wish you all a good seder, a great celebration… I have to leave soon, but I do so with joy, because there are seders being held other places at the same time. It’s not easy to get around to all of them, but it’s a good thing when a person can choose whichever venue is more pleasant, and young people can be meet separately. Maybe we’ll hold macro-seder next time, we’ll see. Good evening to everyone.
Boris Traub and other musicians then played a stirring number, after which Laurina Todesaitė read from the Hagadah.
The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius is preparing for a Passover seder. This Passover will include young people, who have in past years held separate seders. The photographs above and below show the general section and a special section for young people. Tickets for the seder are still available and may be purchased at the door. The service begins at 7:00 P.M. tonight, Friday, March 30, and the seder begins at 7:30. Rabbi Krinsky and Rebbetzin Dina are preparing the seder.
Pesakh kasher v’sameakh!
Smuel Levinas, chairman
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community
For the second time a group of 18-and-under young people from Odessa, Kiev, Minsk, Gomel, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kherson and Krasnoyarsk–85 people in all–have visited Panevėžys as part of a project called Return to Roots. The goal of the journey was to learn about the culture, heritage and history of Litvaks in Panevėžys and Lithuania. Visiting surviving cemeteries, the synagogue and the school, the students witnessed Jewish heritage with their own eyes. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman told the story of the destruction of a Jewish cemetery in 1966 to exploit the headstones as construction material. He said the local Jewish community had gone to great efforts to have the stones returned to the cemetery where the “Sad Jewish Mother” monument now stands. The students showed keen interest in the history of the Jews in the city and World War II. The delegation visited the former Ponevezh yeshiva established by the famous rabbi, Josef Kahaneman. After touring the city the students visited the town of Subačius and the Jewish cemetery there, where rainfall prevented any clean-up work. Alderman Vidmantas Paliulis came to meet the students there. Paliulis has exerted enormous efforts to clean up and maintain the Subačius Jewish cemetery, nicknamed “Paris.” He explained it was called that because of the name of the small neighboring village Paryžius.
The students were then received warmly and fed at the Panevėžys Jewish Community.
The Kaunas Jewish Community has been honoring its most active members for over two decades now. This year KJC chairman Gercas Žakas invited such members to an evening party to thank them for their sincerity, presence, communication and individual contributions of the most varied sort, including contributing homemade pastry for the Hesed Club, cakes cooked with love for various occasions, furthering traditions and the Yiddish language, honoring Holocaust victims, broadening individual horizons through excursions and cultural events, sharing memories and experience, participating at sporting events and extending a helping hand to other members of the community.
Live musical performances contributed to the fun with performances by the collective including Mihail Javič on saxophone, Arvydas Joffė on percussion, Rolandas Babraitis on keyboard and the young vocalist Viktorija. We all know small gifts can cement friendships and everyone who attended received valuable books.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated Sabbath last Friday with Gabrielius Landsbergis, a member of parliament, leader of the Conservative/Christian Democratic Party and great-grandson of Righteous Gentile Ona Landsbergienė.
Lansdbergis completed a degree in history from Vilnius University in 2003. In 2005 he was graduated from the International Relations and Political Science Institute of Vilnius University with a master’s in international relations and diplomacy. He worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania and the Chancellery of the President of Lithuania. In 2007 he joined the staff of the Lithuanian embassy in Belgium. Landsbergis returned to Lithuania in 2011 and worked in the Chancellery of the Government of Lithuania. He was elected a member of the European Parliament in 2014 as a member of the Homeland Union/Lithuanian Christian Democrats faction. Landsbergis was elected chairman of the Homeland Union/Lithuanian Christian Democrats (Conservative Party) in April of 2015.
During the cozy meeting at the LJC, the young politician spoke of his family and early years, his work at the Lithuanian embassy in Belgium and his thoughts about the domestic political situation.
Landsbergis said Lithuanian schools aren’t dedicating enough attention to Lithuanian Jewish history and the Jewish contribution to the development of the nation.
“I don’t think many people know the major portion of the law of the land, the Lithuanian constitution, was written in Yiddish. Attorneys, Jewish legal experts, worked on this document. There are so many facts testifying to the Jewish contribution to the development of Lithuania. This is little discussed, unfortunately. I am interested and read as much as possible about Lithuanian Jewish history. I tell my children about it as well. We can only create an open European society through education,” MP Landsbergis said.
LJC executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas moderated the discussion with Gabrielius Landsbergis.
The Lithuanian Musicians Support Fund in cooperation with the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Goodwill Foundation present the 20th annual international music festival Returns at 6:00 P.M., March 29, 2018, on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius.
Musica Camerata Baltica, with Leonidas Melnikas on piano, Boris Traub on violin and Valentinas Kaplūnas on cello, will perform along with cantor Shmuel Yatom.
Admission is free.
For more information call 8 655 25898 or 261 3171, or see www.lmrf.lt