Jews from Australia Visit Panevėžys

The families of Jews who lived in Panevėžys before the war are now scattered around the world. Even before the war, back in tsarist times, Panevėžys Jews migrated widely to countries such as Argentina, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Brasil and also South Africa and Australia. The Panevėžys Jewish Community often receives visitors from these countries, and especially from South Africa. This time Kelly Rozmarim from Australia visited with her husband, brother and two daughters. She brought documents showing her grandfather Hona Shepts was born in Panevėžys in 1908 and immigrated with his brother to South Africa in 1939. Her father Judelis Shepts was a rabbi. He and his three sisters were also born in Panevėžys and stayed in Lithuania. All of them died in the Holocaust.

In South Africa in 1939 there was a world-renowned Jewish community called Ponevezh. Kelly Rozmarim has a document, a list of people who sailed to South Africa which includes members of her family. She and her brother have also discovered relatives in Šeduva, Pasvalys and Biržai.

The family’s visit to the Panevėžys Jewish Community enriched our archives and provided valuable information about the Jewish residents of Panevėžys back then. The visitors thanked Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman for his active efforts to preserve the Litvak heritage and to commemorate it in Panevėžys. All of the family members left warm words and greetings in the Community’s guest book.

Great Synagogue Excavation to Resume

Dr. Jon Seligman of the Israeli Antiquities Authority has announced excavation of the Great Synagogue and the former complex of surrounding buildings known as the Shulhoyf in Vilnius will resume this summer July 9 and will continue till July 27. Those interested in volunteering should contact Dr. Seligman, address below.

The Great Synagogue and Shulhoyf of Vilna (Vilnius): The 2018 Season
A Research, Excavation, Preservation and Memorial Project

A Quick Summary of the Work until Now

The successful outcome of the preliminary excavation of 2011, the 2015 ground-penetrating radar survey and the 2016 excavation showed us the potential of continued excavation at the site to uncover further sections of the Great Synagogue and the surrounding buildings. Given the resources available to the team, we decided to initially concentrate on issues relating to the water system of the shulhoyf that developed in and around the Great Synagogue in the 18thcentury. Written sources inform us that a pipeline was established in 1759 to bring water from the Vingrių springs, that belonged to the Dominican friars, to the synagogue complex. It supplied water to the communal “well,” and apparently to the bathhouse constructed between 1823 and 1828 that included a miqve and a public lavatory.

LJC Participates in 100 Faces of Lithuania Event

The World Lithuanian Community sponsored an event July 1 at Old Town Hall Square in Vilnius where for the first time since independence Lithuanians in Lithuania had the chance to learn about Lithuanian communities living around the world and Lithuanian ethnic minority communities at the same time. The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Nerija Lithuanian Community in the State of Israel participated with stands on the square. Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė visited the LJC’s Bagel Shop stand and tried the imberlakh. The event also featured a concert and art exhibition in and around the Old Town Hall.

Condolences

Boris Finkelson passed away June 30. He was born in 1941. Our deepest condolences to his wife Adelija and their children.

The Jewish Community of Lithuania

The Jewish Community of Lithuania:

  • Address: Pylimo str. 4, 01117, Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Tel.: (8 5) 2613 003
  • Fax: (8 5) 2127 915
  • E-mail: info@lzb.lt

FK

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman, Jewish Community of Lithuania

  • Chief of staff Monika Antanaitytė +370 672 40942, info@lzb.lt
  • Executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas +370 672 16114, renaldas@lzb.lt

The Lithuanian national revival movement and initial struggle for liberation from Soviet oppression which occurred at the end of the 1980s also provided the conditions for a Jewish national rebirth. Jewish cultural support groups began to form in many institutions and towns.

On August 25, 1988 it was officially decided to create a Lithuanian Jewish Cultural Society; the founding meeting took place on March 5, 1989.

Mission and Vision

Mission

TO unite the Lithuanian Jewish community scattered around the world, to celebrate Jewishness, to preserve the true traditions of Litvak culture, to bring together Jews of all age groups, so that the Yiddish language would ring forth again, so that the Jewish Holy Days are celebrated and observed, so that the Jewish identity would be celebrated and so that the historical memory of the Holocaust is never forgotten.

Vision

The Community is a home where every Lithuanian Jew may celebrate their Jewishness, receive support and lend a helping hand to others.

The Community is a home in which every Jew from anywhere in the world may come and learn about their roots, the history of the Litvaks and their important contribution to world learning and culture.

The Community is a home for everyone who wants to learn about the distinct culture of the Jews.

The Community is a cozy home where everyone is welcome.

 

Litvak Grant Gochin Receives Mention in Prestigious African Magazine

Grant Gochin is a member in good standing of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Originally from South Africa, he’s worked as a wealth and financial planner in the United States for decades. A dual citizen of Lithuania and the United States, he also operates the consulate of Togo in California, as well as performing important duties for the African Union. The following was published in the AU magazine Invest in Africa in the June, 2018, edition.

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Full issue here.

Condolences

We send our deepest condolences to Vanda Klug, a long-time and active member of the Panevėžys Jewish Community and chairwoman of the congress of aldermen, on the death of her beloved father. Our sincerest wishes for strength in this time of loss to her and all relatives and friends.

First Hebrew Camp

For the first time in post-war Lithuania this summer a Hebrew language camp was held from June 22 to 24. Vilnius Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymansium Hebrew teacher Ruth Reches organized the event. She has been teaching Hebrew to adults for two years now at the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Ruth says the idea for the camp occurred to her spontaneously. “I was speaking with students and we began to talk about how it wasn’t enough to learn Hebrew in the classroom. We were thinking about immersion in a Hebrew language environment and how good it would be to go to Israel for that reason. But first we decided to attempt to create a Hebrew environment at a camp,” she said.

The camp was held on a rural farm where for three days over 40 people from all over Lithuania gathered. The people ranged in age from students to pensioners.

LJC Invites Children to Summer Camp Amehaye 2018

Lietuvos žydų (litvakų) bendruomenė kviečia vaikus į dieninę vasaros stovyklą „Amehaye 2018“

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites children aged 5-10 to the Amehaye 2018 summer camp at the Karvys manor estate in Paežeriai village in the Maišiagala aldermanship in the Vilnius region from July 16 to 27. The program includes educational activities and walks. Facilities will be provided for naps for the younger children and breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served daily.

Cost for one child is 160 euros, or to register two children at once 150 euros apiece. The cost for one week is 80 euros. Children in the LJC social program receive a subsidy. Registration is open till July 10.

Electronic registration form here.

For more information and to register, contact Sofja Sirutienė by email at sofja@lzb.lt or call +37067257540, or contact Žana Skudovičienė at zanas@sc.lzb.lt or call +37067881514.

LJC Criticizes Vilnius Municipality Invitation to Celebrate 1941 Uprising

Vilnius, June 27, BNS–The Lithuanian Jewish Community Wednesday criticized an invitation to the public from the Vilnius municipality to mark the anniversary of the 1941 uprising.

According to the Community’s statement, in June of 1941 “Lithuania won a brief and very conditional freedom essentially in exchange for becoming a Nazi ally.”

The LJC said the Lithuanian Activist Front which staged the uprising against the Soviet government became a tool of anti-Semitic policy in Lithuania and the Provisional Government never passed any act condemning the mass murder of Jews.

“The LJC can’t remain indifferent when several days ago in the heart of the capital a celebration was held, while flags of mourning should have flown in the country to mark the first victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania,” the statement said.

The uprising in June, 1941, is supposed to have been a struggle the restore Lithuanian statehood destroyed by the Soviet occupation, but critics say the insurgents and the Provisional Government were not favorable towards Jews.

The invitation published on the internet page of the Vilnius municipality claims the 1941 uprising demonstrated the resolution of Lithuanians to fight the Bolshevik occupation.

“In June, 1941, to avenge for those murdered and family members deported to Siberia and other northern regions of the Soviet Union, the sons and daughters of our nation, relying only upon their own bravery and themselves, were able to drive out the hated occupier and albeit briefly (June 22 to 28, 1941) restore Lithuanian statehood and the independence lost due to the culpability of their politicians and military leaders,” the Vilnius municipality’s invitation said.

It’s Unfair to Say All Lithuanians Murdered Jews

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has never said or claimed and never will that all Lithuanians are murderers of Jews. Although approximately 95 percent of Jews in Lithuanian were murdered in the Holocaust with the help of local collaborators, it’s not fair to label the entire Lithuanian people with the offensive and shameful accusation of murderers.

This is especially not fair to those who remained steadfast and passed the most difficult trial of being human. Those brave Lithuanians who seemed to find themselves in a hopeless situation and nonetheless found within themselves the power to fight antihuman ideas and Nazi doctrine. We can speak the names today of more than 800 of these quiet heroes although certainly the names of more have been lost to time.

Marking on June 25 the massacre of Jews at Lietūkis garage in Kaunas, honoring the memory of our ancestors and their rescuers, the LJC cannot remain indifferent when several days ago in the heart of the capital a celebration was held, while flags of mourning should have flown in the country to remember the first victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania.

On June 21, 2018, the municipality of the city of Vilnius published on their internet page an invitation to mark the anniversary of the June 23 uprising in which, among other things, that in June of 1941 revenge was exacted for the deportation of family members to Siberia and other northern regions of the Soviet Union, and that the sons and daughters of our nation, relying only upon their own bravery and themselves, were able to drive out the hated occupier and at least briefly (from June 22 to 28, 1941) restore Lithuanian statehood and the independence lost due to the culpability of their politicians and military leaders.

Should we really be encouraging the celebration of revenge, should we really utilize hate in the alleged goal of uniting the nation? Even after 70 years have passed since the end of the war, these sorts of phrases, recalling those during the Holocaust, remain painfully familiar.

Kaunas Remembers Lietūkis Garage Victims

On an overcast Monday afternoon members of the Kaunas Jewish Community, friends of the Community and those who care honored the victims of the Lietūkis garage massacre. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky recalled the historical event when in the first days of World War II in Lithuania when one group of citizens brutally tortured and murdered another group of citizens just because they were Jews as a crowd looked on in the middle of the day. She spoke about enduring myths about Jews, the Holocaust and the reasons the Holocaust happened.

Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas and ghetto inmate Fruma Kučinskienė recalled what their family members said about those horrible and not-so-distant times and the still living, blood-curdling images fixed in memory.

Chairman of the Kaunas chapter of Sąjūdis [Lithuanian independence movement] Raimundas Kaminskas and Ninth Fort Museum deputy director Marius Pečiulis both expressed condolences to Holocaust victims and their descendants and apologized for the crimes of their countrymen.

All speakers expressed a common idea: the need to educate children, not just to talk about the historical facts, crimes against humanity and genocide, but to try to figure out together with children how and why these sorts of crimes occur, what happens to the human mind, psyche and spirit so that a person loses all sense of humanity and commits inconceivable acts.

Israelis Visit Panevėžys

For the fourth year now Edit Perry from Israel has led delegations of visitors to Panevėžys and the Panevėžys Jewish Community. This year, on June 25, the guide and teacher led a group of 23 people from Tel Aviv and other locations in Israel engaged in researching Jewish heritage and history. They are university students who study Jewish history during the academic year and spend their summers actually visiting locations connected with the life of their forefathers in Lithuania and Poland.

Community member Jurij Smirnov shared his experience of the Holocaust as a child in the concentration camps in Šiauliai and Panevėžys, the death of family members and how he came to Panevėžys with surviving family.

Following the discussion, the visitors viewed a photography exhibition and Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman presented a brief history of the Jews of the Panevėžys region before World War II. All visitors were given a Jewish calendar published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community featuring drawings and paintings of Lithuanian synagogues by Gerardas Bagdonavičius made before the war.

LJC Administration Contacts

Name Title Telephone, e-mail
 Simas Levinas chairman, Vilnius Jewish Religious Community  (8 5) 212 1655
Renaldas Vaisbrodas executive director +370 672 16114 renaldas@lzb.lt
Žana Skudovičienė acting director,Social Programs Department; coordinator, Gešer Club, ABI MEN ZET ZICH and Day Club +370 678 81514 zanas@sc.lzb.lt
Monika Antanaitytė director, LJC secretariat and protocol department +370 672 40942 info@lzb.lt
Liuba Šerienė LJC secretary (8-5) 261 3003
Asta Rainytė senior accountant (8-5) 212 1676 asta@lzb.lt
Michail Lapida security coordinator +370 609 97334
Rokas Dobrovolskis administrator, maintenance +370 652 09915 rokas@lzb.lt

LJC Social Department Staff Contacts

Name Title Telephone
Michail Segal director, Social Programs Department +370 650 75939
Ninel Skudovičiūtė information coordinator (8 5) 261 2114
Rašelė Šeraitė social support for children and young families +370 652 13 146
Ema Jakobienė Social Department program coordinator (food, medicine) (8 5) 261 1251
Geršonas Taicas volunteer, lecture series +370 689 83 293
Home care service (8 5) 261 7244
Volunteer doctors medical consultation from 12:00 noon to 3:00 P.M. (8 5) 261 1736

 

Educational Plein Air

July 31-August 4, 2018

The Savickas Art School of the Lithuanian Jewish Community is holding their 4th plein air outdoor drawing and painting workshop. Spend 5 days and four nights in the company of famous artists surrounded by nature. Raimondas Savickas, Ramunė Savickaitė-Meškelienė and specials guests from Israel and Lithuania will be on hand to give advice. The setting this year is the Karvys manor estate on Lake Karvys in Paežeriai village near Vilnius.

Registration is open till noon on July 16. To register or for further information, contact Žana Skudovičienė by email at zanas@sc.lzb.lt or call +370 678 81514.

Condolences

On June 22 Etia Suvorova died. She was born in 1936. Our deepest condolences to her husband Cholem and daughter Marina.

Condolences

Ivanas Grinkevičius (1944-2018) passed away June 22. Our condolences to his wife Sira.

Lithuanian Mini-Maccabiah Games Celebrate 100th Anniversary of Lithuania

Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club held a mini-Maccabiah games event celebrating 100 years of Lithuanian independence Sunday at the Educology University in Vilnius. Athletes from Vilnius, Kaunas, Panevėžys, Šalčininkai, Lentvaris and Israeli exchange students from Kaunas competed. All participants received participation medals and the youngest contestant, Grytė Vaisbrodė, received a participation trophy. Best athletes in all team sports received personal trophies. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Makabi vice president Daumantas Levas Todesas welcomed and congratulated athletes.

Competition was held in indoor football, 3-on-3 basketball, volley ball, table tennis (men’s and women’s), chess and badminton (men’s and women’s).

A luncheon was held following the competition.