Tel Aviv Gay Pride March 2017

Friday afternoon around 200,000 people, including tens of thousands of tourists, gathered to watch and march in Tel Aviv’s annual gay pride march. Bisexuality was a major theme this year. Police blocked traffic along main streets for the marchers. Bicycles were banned and police checked participants and on-lookers for weapons.

Animated Documentary for Teaching Children about the Holocaust

To date Fettle Animation, a Marsden-based company, have won a BAFTA and two Royal Television Society awards for their animated Holocaust documentaries. We wanted to know how they’re being used to help children understand this pivotal moment in history

From the Cold War to the bombing of Hiroshima, our children learn about important but traumatic moments in history while they’re at school. But although most of us are aware of the atrocities of the Holocaust, can anyone truly understand what it felt like to be a child in the concentration camps? It’s an emotionally complex scenario for anyone to comprehend. But a Marsden-based company, Fettle Animation, are leading the way with engaging and educative animated films for children. We spoke to their founder and Producer Kath Shackleton to find out more about this great company and their award-winning films.

Fettle Animation was created by Kath (a former art development officer) and her partner Zane Whittingham, who has over 25 years of experience working in animation. After the birth of their daughter, they decided to leave London and move back to Kath’s native Yorkshire, to set up in Marsden. “We set the company up hoping to get some work-life balance, but I think we’ve exploited ourselves far harder than any employer would in the end,” Kath jokes, “But it’s definitely worth it.”

Surrounded by rolling hills and the idyllic countryside, Kath and Zane have an enviable lifestyle. But both have they worked hard. In the five years since they set up their company, which specializes in the production of animated films from freehand drawings, they’ve flown all over the world appearing at prestigious film festivals and collecting awards. Alongside the Children’s BAFTA, and two Royal Television Society awards, they have countless other international commendations. They’re so popular that two awards that they’ve been nominated for recently, the Japan Prize in Tokyo and the Prix Europa in Berlin, are being presented on the same night. What to do?

And There Shall Be No Jewish Museum at the Palace of Sports, Lithuanian PM Decrees

Vilnius, June 13, BNS–A new tender for construction of a proposed Congress Center to replace the former Vilnius Palace of Sports is planned for this fall and there will be no Jewish history museum there, Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis said.

“We confirm an international tender will be announced very soon, taking into account that the earlier process was halted because of a possible lack of transparency. This project will be continued and developed further, but, unfortunately, the deadlines will be extended now,” the prime minister told BNS after meeting with Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius. “I will check, but this should be accomplished by the month of September,” he said after being asked when the tender for a new contractor would be announced.

A few months back Skvernelis and Šimašius met and said following that meeting that they were considering setting up a Jewish history museum inside the building during reconstruction. The idea drew swift criticism from Jewish representatives in Lithuania and the USA. Skvernelis now says the idea for a museum isn’t being considered any longer.

Makabi Athletics Club Holds Mini-Maccabiah Games to Celebrate 100th Birthday

The Makabi Lithuanian athletics club held a mini-Maccabiah May 21 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the club’s founding in Lithuania. The Maccabiah Games are an annual international sporting competition in Israel to which Lithuanian Makabi sends athletes. In the mini-Maccabiah, 74 athletes from Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Šiauliai and Ukmergė competed in five sports: indoor soccer, three-on-three basketball, volleyball, men’s and women’s table tennis and chess. Everyone received participation medallions.

The Kaunas basketball team defeated the Vilnius and Klaipėda teams. Kaunas player Elvis Ušpicas won in foul shots (9 players) with six hoops in a row.

The Vilnius team on home ground won in indoor soccer and volleyball.

Catholic Priest Recognized as Righteous Gentile in Kupiškis

Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman and Community member Grafman attended a ceremony at the Povilas Matulionis Pre-Gymnasium in Kupiškis, Lithuania, May 30 held by the Israeli embassy to Lithuania to award the title of Righteous among the Nations posthumously to the priest Feliksas Ereminas (1890-1962). The Catholic cleric rescued the Jewish girl Rachel Rozenberg during World War II. For rescuing and further taking care of her, ambassador Amir Maimon presented Ereminas’s relative Tauras Budzys the Righteous among the Nations medallion and certificate issued by the Yad Vashem Holocaust authority in Israel.

The ambassador said the event is a lesson for our future. Professor Aldona Vasiliauskienė told the moving story of the rescue and how she collected the material required for the award.

Ambassador Maimon said: “We are happy and proud to have the opportunity today to recognize Feliksas Ereminas. Eighty years have passed since that time. Today we can only imagine those difficult times when Jews had to seek asylum.”

Congratulations

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has been receiving congratulations from far and wide on the re-election of Faina Kukliansky as chairwoman for a second term. She participated at a reception for a team of disabled athletes at the Israeli embassy with Lithuanian social welfare and labor minister Linas Kukuraitis to mark the start of her second term, where Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon congratulated her on her re-election as chairwoman of the LJC. Guests were presented a specially minted coin as a keepsake.

Notes of congratulation have also been received from the Lithuanian bar association wishing the LJC unifying and fortifying work in the future. Mickey Kantor, chairwoman of the Association of Vilna Jews in Israel, congratulated Kukliansky, wished her success and hoped for the same quality of good work accomplished during Kukliansky’s first term.

Faina Kukliansky Wins Election to Head Lithuanian Jewish Community

Faina Kukliansky was elected to a second term as chairwoman at Lithuanian Jewish Community elections held last Sunday. Monika Antanaitytė, Chief of Staff at the LJC, said the chairwoman won with a majority of votes, explaining all votes were cast for her with three abstentions. No votes were cast for Simonas Gurevičius, Antanaitytė told Lithuanian media.

Are Russian-Speaking Jews Less Worthy? No Way!

by Arkadijus Vinokuras

You have to have malice to call me a Russophobe. I am addressing several Russian-speaking Jews of Vilnius who are spreading this lie. I have the highest regard for all kinds of Russian art. By personal invitation of legendary clown Yuri Nikulin I performed in his circus in Moscow. Also at the invitation of legendary Taganka Theater director Yuri Lubimov, I performed in his presentation of Master and Margarita at Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theater. Several of my best poems were written in Russian. Incidentally, I write poetry in Lithuanian, Russian, Swedish, English and Spanish.

So what horrible thing has happened to begin this malicious campaign against my person? Is it that I have foundation to say the Vilnius Jewish Community elections for chairman initiated by Simonas Gurevičius have nothing in common with democratic principles? If that’s it, no one has even attempted to rebut my arguments. So what else is left? To turn my well-founded criticism into the accusation that I am insulting the Russian-speaking Jews of Vilnius. That’s just cheap. But if anyone does feel falsely “suspected” of something, I sincerely apologize.

The accusation is without basis. When the fascists of any European state murdered our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, they didn’t care a bit which language they were speaking. After the 1917 Revolution around 100,000 Jews were murdered in pogroms. When Lithuanian Jews were deported to the gulag by order of Josef Stalin, it didn’t matter what language they spoke. Before and after World War II Russian Jews were subject to “cleansing” and tens of thousands of Russian Jews died in the gulags.

This is my statement which brought on the storm: “There is another problem, that of mentality, afflicting the Vilnius Jewish Community. For instance, the majority of those 260 VJC members who assembled speak Russian exclusively among themselves. They only watch Russian television channels. The don’t understand terms such as democratic elections and democratic election and democratic election campaign procedures.” I am clearly talking only about 260 people and I stress “the majority of them.” In other words, my statement has nothing to do with the 2,000 other Jews in Vilnius, many of whom are Russian speakers. On what considerations was my statement based? I wanted to explain what I believed were the reasons the democratic rules of the game were violated and ignored. After all, 260 people voted in elections which clearly violated the principles of fair elections and the community was divided. The easiest thing to do was to reject my arguments at a primitive and emotional level, shouting “Gospodin Vinokuras padsadnaya utka Faini.” And also by accusing me of belittling Russian-speaking Jews.

Annual ORT Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony


Photos by Eli Rabinowitz

As the school year comes to an end and summer vacation begins, the ORT Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium held their annual combined bar and bat mitzvah ceremony Monday at the Choral Synagogue and the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Parents and children arrived in their finest attire for the symbolic coming-of-age service which was conducted in Russian and Hebrew. Proud parents watched their boys and girls of different ages receiving Rabbi Samson Izakson’s blessing as they stood under the hoopa or canopy, praents took pictures and the audience rained candies down on the hoopa as the service concluded. Sholem Aleichem school principal Miša Jakobas delivered a moving address to his students in Russian. The service ended with children passing by the Torah scroll but no readings by boys or girls.

The party then moved to the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community where the children or young adults had a candle-lighting ceremony to honor their parents, school, homeland, Israel and fallen Israeli soldiers. The festivities here were in Lithuanian and Hebrew. Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon spoke in a very genuine manner, translated to Lithuanian by Sholem Aleichem Hebrew teacher Ruth Reches, and recounted the parable of rabbi asked to repeat the whole of the law while standing on one foot. The young people performed songs, dance and did short skits in Lithuanian based on the writings of the author Sholem Aleichem and other Yiddish writers. After the young people were presented token gifts from the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the party moved into the foyer where there was abundant snacks, juice, coffee, wine and water. A series of artworks by students made especially for the occasion lined a long table as people helped themselves to hors d’oeuvres and waiters and waitresses circulated through the crowd with plates laden with food.

Pre-Internet Viral: Songs of the Vilna Ghetto


by Geoff Vasil

The ORT Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium in Vilnius had a special guest Monday. Eli Rabinowitz from Perth, originally Cape Town, tries to make it to Lithuania every summer, and says he’s been here seven times now in the last six years. He comes from a long line of Litvaks in South Africa and has been quietly going to schools around the world to get them to teach their students the Partisan Song.

For those who don’t know what that means, there is a world-famous song which came out of the Vilnius ghetto, one treated as a sort of national anthem in Israel, where people stand at attention when it is sung. Most people in Vilnius and Lithuania today have never heard it, but over the decades before the internet came along, the song went viral in slow motion.

Choral Synagogue under Repair

The electrical system and roof of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius are being replaced thanks to financial aid from the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture and the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department. The schedule for services will not change. During construction tourists will not be admitted into the synagogue. We apologize for the temporary inconvenience.

Shmuel (Simas) Levinas, chairman
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community

Abi Men Zet Zikh Club Celebrates Shavuot

The Abi Men Zet Zich Club and the Social Program Department invite their clients to come celebrate Shavuot at 2:00 P.M., May 30, at the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Rabbi Samson Izakson, cantpr Shmuel Yaatom and Markas Volynskis will be there. Traditional Shavuot foods will be served. For more information contact Žana Skudovičienė at +3706 78 81514.

Faina Kukliansky Re-elected Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman

Vilnius, May 28, BNS–Faina Kukliansky was re-elected for a second term at Lithuanian Jewish Community elections Sunday. Competitor Simonas Gurevičius called the poll illegitimate and said he would take the matter to court.

Monika Antanaitytė, the director of the LJC secretariat, told BNS “Faina Kukliansky won with a majority of votes. Electors either voted for Kukliansky, or abstained. No votes were cast in favor of Gurevičius.” She said she was unable to provide the exact breakdown of votes at the current time.

Simonas Gurevičius told BNS the Vilnius Jewish Community would bring a case to court over decisions by the election conference to create artificial barriers to Jews who wanted to observe the election, and what he alleged were irregularities in the election violating the regulations of the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Apology

We apologize for the appearance on the Community webpage of a hasty, unedited news item on the evening of May 24. The contents did not and do not reflect the official position of the Lithuanian Jewish Community nor that of the Vilnius Jewish Community. In line with completely justified criticisms our readers sent in by email, we completely re-edited and updated the news item, but because the continuing impassioned, unproductive and offensive discussions on social media, we decided to remove it entirely.

Sincerely,

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

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.

Arkadijus Vinokuras: A Community Divided

15min.lt

Yesterday, on May 24, 2017, in an uprising against Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, the 15 men of the executive board conducted, according to the current chairwoman, illegitimate elections, thus dividing the community.

I, Arkadijus Vinokuras, a legitimate candidate, refused to take part in these elections for three reasons, which can be summed up in the cynical words of newly elected [sic] Vilnius Jewish Community chairman Simonas Gurevičius: “The unity of the community is important. But unity was never a synonym for idiocy. The community is united in pursuing its goals, in improving conditions, in mutual aid, in growth, in perfection, in other positive matters. Not in silence over dishonesty and apathy.” Did you get it? The unity of the community is considered a synonym for stupidity. Apparently striving for the unity of the community (but not confusing this in any way with a uniform opinion) is also idiotic. That the new “chairman” considers members of the VJC idiots and fools, and that the defense of morality has become a farce, was shown by him immediately during the election, when I withdrew from the elections and that very same minute a new candidacy was raised “in the name of democratic elections.”

Why I Refused to Participate

First. Because of the moral dilemma. There are 2,200 members in the Vilnius Jewish Community. These elections for the post of VJC chairman were attended exclusively by Gurevičius’s supporters, just 260 people. I, on the other hand, want to be a candidate for all members, regardless of whether they are proponents or opponents. That’s the correct and fair way. Thus my legitimate hopes and expectations as a legitimate candidate were not satisfied.

Second. Only Gurevičius’s supporters participated in these “elections.” He was elected by 246 people. I cannot countenance these elections turned farcical with no chance for an independent candidate.

Third. These elections didn’t contain even a trace of democracy. First of all, the conflict which arose between the executive board and the chairwoman was born in immorality. Whether there were good grounds for it or not, I won’t get into, I won’t go into the legal arguments. But it’s not just the legal aspect that matters in this small community, it’s the aspect of fairness and justice. So the chairwoman was accused of usurping power and manipulating the regulations of the VJC. All the problems of the VJC were placed at the feet of the chairwoman.

Flawed Regulations

But–at least the question arises in my mind–where were these members of the executive board of the VJC, these allegedly intelligent 15 men, these last four years? Why didn’t they over the course of those years do anything to change these flawed rules and regulations which allowed for manipulations using these regulations as seen fit and as desired by the chair and the executive board? Why did these 15 men, who placed the blame for the conflict on one woman, begin this conflict which has led directly to the schism in the community?

Evening to Give Thanks to Rescuers of Jews in Kaunas

“It’s difficult to express in words our gratitude and respect. It is our duty to remember not just the victims of the Holocaust, but also those brave people who risked their lives and those of their families to rescue Jews, sometimes their neighbors, sometimes friends, but more often complete strangers,” Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas at an annual evening event to give thanks to rescuers and their children , grandchildren and now even great-grandchildren. He thanked those in attendance for their close and war ties with the Jewish Community and for so enthusiastically attending Jewish Community events.

Singer Judita Leitaitė, pianist Rūta Mikelaitytė-Kašubienė and violinist Paulina Daukšytė performed at the event. Kristina Kazakevičiūtė, the daughter of a rescuer and an actress at the Kaunas Chamber Theater, read some profound poetry and then lightened the mood with some Jewish jokes. Participants in school tolerance education centers also attended and there were discussions of how to teach Jewish culture to school pupils in a more interesting way. The evening ended with the presentation of small gifts.

Litvak Artist on Exhibit at LJC

Solomon Teitselbaum’s paintings will go on display at the Lithuanian Jewish Community exhibit called “In Search of Spiritual Support” with an opening ceremony at 5:00 P.M., May 25, 2017, on the third floor of the LJC, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius. Prints will be available for purchase at the opening.

Good Will Foundation Invites Public to Book Launch, Concert

Good Will Foundation Invites Public to Book Launch, Concert

The Goodwill Foundation invites you to a presentation of Rūta Guzevičiūtė’s book “Wanderings of Jewish Costume in Time and Space” and a Jewish music concert at the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius at 6:00 P.M. on Thursday, June 1. The group of well-known musicians will perform for you: dr. Marija Krupoves-Berg – vocals, Andrius Balachovičius – accordion, Arkadijus Gotesmanas – percussion, Borisas Kirzneris – violin.