European Commission Holds First-Ever Working Group on Anti-Semitism


As Europe grapples with a rising tide of anti-Semitism, the European Commission held its first-ever working group on the matter. The meeting, which convened almost 100 representatives of Jewish communities, EU member states and international organizations, spent a full day discussing security including risk assessments, building trust and physical protection.

“The Commission is acting together with member states to counter the rise of anti-Semitism, to fight Holocaust denial and to guarantee that Jews have the full support of the authorities to keep them safe. The working group will help member states coordinate their actions and fight anti-Semitism efficiently together,” EU justice commissioner Věra Jourová said in a statement before the session.

The EU was presented with an action plan to combat anti-Semitism in February when the European Jewish Congress called on EU member states to adopt in full the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism.

Full story here.

Leonidas Donskis: When Will the Truth Finally Set Us Free?

Leonidas Donskis: When Will the Truth Finally Set Us Free?

Bernardinai.lt

In marking the anniversary of the June Uprising of 1941, let’s look at what the late Leonidas Donskis wrote in 2010.

I will admit that reading commentaries by political analyst Kęstutis Girnius on the Lithuanian Provisional Government and the Lithuanian Activist Front, and the allegedly small amount of academic research and documentation on these phenomena, I find myself hardly able to believe that a person whom I consider one of the soberest and keenest of our political commentators could write this. Without quoting from his earlier statements on radio and in print on this issue, I will present a link to a new comment by Kęstutis Girnius.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Enchanting Pflaumen-Tzimmes

Enchanting Pflaumen-Tzimmes

Bagel Shop Café cooks have been sharing some of the secrets of Litvak cooking this summer with the managers of a small restaurant in Merkinė, Lithuania, called Šilo kopa. They’ve been making bagels, herring and pflaumen-tzimmes together.

Pflaumen-tzimmes is a stew made of plums and beef often made for the Sabbath table and Rosh Hashanah.

Bagel Shop Café cook Riva remembers this dish well and still makes it according to a simple recipe: about 1.5 kilograms of beef (from the forequarter), bone, about 15 to 20 plums, about 1.5 kg of potatoes and 1 onion, which is later removed. Laurel leaves aren’t required, only salt. The flavor is enhanced by several tablespoons of caramelized sugar added at the end.

The beef is boiled with the onion for about 2 hours, the onion is removed, the plums are added for about an hour and later the potatoes. When everything has been boiled sufficiently, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of liquefied caramelized sugar.

Visitors Flock to Panevėžys Jewish Community for Summer

Visitors Flock to Panevėžys Jewish Community for Summer

Achikam and Riva Shapira of Israel paid an unexpected visit to the Panevėžys Jewish Community on June 16 seeking information about their relatives, who previously lived in Kupiškis, then moved to Panevėžys with some relatives moving to South Africa. Achikam’s grandfather God Shapira and his wife Khana were born in Memel, which is now called Klaipėda and his grandfather’s brother David Shapira lived in Kupiškis and moved to Panevėžys.

Only migration saved the family from the Holocaust, except for the elder brother Mordechai Shapira who stayed in Lithuania and was murdered in Skuodas during the Holocaust. Family members still remember everything connected with their former life in Lithuania. Achikam donated some family photographs to the Panevėžys Jewish Community archives.

Sheryl Silber of the USA and Alin Silberg of Canada visited on June 17 after taking part in the unveiling of the new Holocaust memorial in Biržai, Lithuania. They told their family’s story. Their great-grandparents, Dora Dviera (née Zak, 1863-1932) and Harry Moishe Meirovitch were born in Panevėžys, as did their other great-grandparents Yakhvida and Liba Zak. Their great-great-grandparents moved to South Africa in 1906 while some of their relatives remained in Lithuania and died in the Holocaust. After viewing photographs at the Panevėžys Jewish Community, the two women expressed the desire to see Jewish heritage sites in city. The Panevėžys Jewish Community received new information about the Zak, Meirovitch and Silberg families.

Augustinas Savickas Memorial Plaque

The Augustinas Savickas Picture Gallery is pleased to invite you to a ceremony to unveil a plaque commemorating the late artist Augustinas Savickas. The ceremony will take place at the home where he lived and worked from 2008 to 2012, at Vytauto street no. 19 in Trakai, near Vilnius, at 12 noon on Tuesday, June 25. Participants include Lithuanian culture minister Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, Trakai regional administrator Edita Rudelienė, actor Juozas Budraitis, sculptor Zigmas Buterlevičius, art historian Saulius Pilinkus and the son of the winner of the national prize for literature and art, Raimondas Savickas. At 12:30 P.M. the exhibit “I Love Trakai” of works from the plein air outdoor art workshop of the Savickas Art School will open at the Trakai regional administration.

Project supporters:

Savickas Picture Gallery, Basanavičiaus street no. 11/Teatro street no. 1, Vilnius

Raimondas Savickas: +370 699 63522, Birutė Savickienė: +370 685 62637

www.savickogalerija.lt

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International Project Connects New York and Vilnius YIVO Archives

International Project Connects New York and Vilnius YIVO Archives

Lithuanian culture minister Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas has met with YIVO director Jonathan Brent and YIVO head of archives Dr. Stefanie Halpern. In the meeting they discussed the implementation of YIVO’s Vilna project, a seven-year-long international effort to preserve, digitize and connect the pre-war YIVO archives in New York and Vilnius. The project aims at recreating the Strashun Library, one of the largest Jewish collections in Europe before the Holocaust.

The Lithuanian side expressed the hope that next year, when the Baltic country marks the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History, YIVO would loan the pinkas of the Vilna Gaon shul, a book of statistics kept by the Jewish community which is considered one of the most important documents testifying to the life and history of the Vilnius Jewish community.

Full story in Lithuanian on the Lithuanian Culture Ministry webpage here.

Lithuanian Makabi Club Holds Mini-Maccabiah Games

Lithuanian Makabi Club Holds Mini-Maccabiah Games

Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club members from Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Šiauliai and Šalčininkai and Israeli exchange students studying in Kaunas participated at the mini-Maccabiah Games competition held Sunday, June 18, at Vytautas Magnus University and the Alexander Pushkin School in Vilnius. All competitors received participation medals and the best athlete in each individual sport received a personalized trophy. Makabi Athletics Club president Semionas Finkelšteinas welcomed athletes to the competition who competed in 6 sports: indoor soccer, 3-on-3 basketball, volley ball, table tennis, chess and badminton (men’s and women’s categories for the latter).

The Panevėžys Makabi team led by A. Šteinas finished first in indoor soccer, followed by Vilnius Makabi led by D. Gunevič and the Vilnius youth team led by A. Perepelica.

In basketball the Kaunas-Israeli joint team with captain E. Ušpicas defeated both Vilnius youth teams for first place.

Help Identify This Woman

Stasė Jusaitė, a museum expert at the Ninth Fort Museum in Kaunas, is asking the public for help identifying the woman on the left in the photograph below. The woman on the right is Ona Fridmanienė, the wife of Vulf Fridman, who lived on Italijos (now Mickevičiaus) street in Kaunas before World War II. After her husband died she remarried, to a man named Gustas. Returning from some hiding place–it’s not clear where–she found a Jewish baby boy in a basket and brought him home. When the boy was about three years old, his mother and father came from Vilnius and took him home. When they boy was between 7 and 9, they came to visit Ona again. Ona’s great-granddaughter is searching for the woman and her son.

Amir Maimon: Lithuania Was a Journey I’ll Never Forget

Amir Maimon: Lithuania Was a Journey I’ll Never Forget

Photo: Amiras Maimonas © 2019 DELFI/Domantas Pipas

DELFI.lt

by Amir Maimon, Israeli ambassador to Lithuania, June 17, 2019 [translated to English from the Lithuanian translation]

It’s hard to believe four and a half years have passed and my journey to Lithuania is coming to an end. When I was posted as the first resident ambassador to Lithuania, I didn’t know much about the country, about its people, culture, landscape and history. As an average, self-confident person, I though I already knew everything, I was certain three months of preparation were completely sufficient to understand what Lithuania was, when I was going and what I would be doing.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Exhibit on Slobodka

Exhibit on Slobodka

The Kaunas Regional State Archive invited the public to come celebrate International Archives Day on June 11, although technically June 9 is the date set as an annual day by the International Council of Archives.

On June 11 the regional state archive showed an exhibit called “The History of the Suburbs of Kaunas: Vilijampolë from Manor Estate to City.” Vilijampolë is the Lithuanian name of the former Jewish neighborhood of Slobodka which became the Kaunas ghetto during the Holocaust.

Archive director Gintaras Druèkus welcomed visitors and said the exhibit was the first in a new series of exhibits featuring the suburbs and neighborhoods of Kaunas. He began a discussion of Slobodka with Kaunas Regional State Archive senior specialist and exhibit curator Nijolë Ambraškienë, department director Vitalija Girèytë, Kaunas Regional Public Library local history expert Dr. Mindaugas Balkus, social activist Dr. Raimundas Kaminskas, Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas, Jewish representative Michailas Duškesas and others, who informed the audience of different aspects of the history of the suburb.

Holocaust Memorial Unveiled in Biržai

Holocaust Memorial Unveiled in Biržai

A new Holocaust memorial was unveiled in the Biržai region on June 16. The 30-meter-long monument commemorates 522 known victims. About 2,400 people, 900 of them children, were shot in the Pakamponys (aka Astravas) forest in 1941, but not all names are known. Jews were an integral part of the culture and history of the northern Lithuanian town of Biržai.

Trees were planted along Žemaitės street to honor those who risked their lives to save Jews, the Biržai Jewish Culture and History Association reported.

A procession walked the same route Jews were forced to march to their deaths in 1941, from the site of the ghetto on Žemaitės street to the mass murder site in Pakamponys forest, where the new monument was revealed. This is only the sixth site in Lithuania where Holocaust victims are commemorated with inscriptions of names.

Joseph Rabie from France designed the monument. His great-grandparents came from Biržai and some of his relatives were murdered at Pakamponys. Abel and Glenda Levitt from Israel initiated the commemoration project. Philanthropist Ben Rabinowitz from Cape Town who also has roots in Biržai was a strong contributor to the project.

Lithuania Marks Day of Mourning and Hope June 14

Lithuania Marks Day of Mourning and Hope June 14

Mass deportations to Stalin’s camps began on this day in 1941.

About 17,500 people were deported from Lithuania between June 14 and 18, 1941, (the fates of 16,246 have been determined so far), a number derived from the 4,663 arrested and 12, 832 people officially deported. The deportations were a huge loss and tragedy for Lithuania. Not all those deported were ethnic Lithuanians: about 3,000 Jews, according to various sources, were also deported and about 375 Jews died at the camps and in exile.

Jews deported to Siberia resisted the brutality and terror of the oppressive Soviet organs with a deep spirituality and faith. In 1941 about 1.3 percent of the total Lithuanian Jewish population were deported, and as a percentage constitute the largest group by ethnicity deported from Lithuania.

Santariškės Children’s Hospital doctor Rozalija Černakova tells the story of what happened to her grandfather and family. Her grandparents were deported with their families. Rozalija’s parents were still children when they were deported: her mother 11 and her mother’s brother 8. They were sent to the Altai region. That’s where Rozalija was born.

Happy Birthday to Konstantinas Chružkovas

Happy Birthday to Konstantinas Chružkovas

The Lithuanian Jewish Community sends birthday greetings to Panevėžys Jewish Community member Konstantinas Chružkovas on his milestone birthday. A long-time and active member, Konstantinas is a talented folk artist and blacksmith producing amazing objects. His work is on display in the headquarters of the Panevėžys Jewish Community and he also manufactured the menorah at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius. One menorah he made was presented to Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon as a gift. Community chairman Gennady Kofman also sends his warm wishes, wishing Konstantinas even greater creativity, energy, resolution, good emotions, a long life and the love of family, wishes echoed by the LJC as a whole Happy birthday, Konstantinas.