Have a Happy Sukkot with Friends and Family

Have a Happy Sukkot with Friends and Family

Members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community traditionally gather in the Sukkot tent–the sukka–to talk and eat. The happy holiday lasts seven days.

Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles or tents) is one of three pilgrim holidays mentioned in the Bible as shalosh regalim. In earlier times it was an agricultural holiday to give thanks for the harvest. The sukka is a tent, the only home Jews knew for the 40 years they wandered the desert after the exodus from Egypt. As a temporary shelter, the sukka also reminds us existence is fragile, and Sukkot is a time when we should appreciate our home and body.

The sukka is a necessary part of the holiday of Sukkot and needs to be built. Jews are supposed to sit in the booth and eat and celebrate. It is celebrated for seven days in Israel. There, where it’s usually warm, people even sleep in the make-shift dwellings and children especially enjoy the holiday. The dwelling place is decorated on the eve of the holiday and it is forbidden to work on the first day of the holiday.

Four species of plant are required and are placed together on a platter or plate and waved around. This is written in the Bible. The species are the fruit of the citron tree, palm fronds, myrtle fronds and willow branches. On the seventh day of Sukkot Jews circle seven times in synagogue reciting the prayer used on that day.

Holocaust Commemoration in Švenčionys on October 6

Holocaust Commemoration in Švenčionys on October 6

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Švenčionys Jewish Community remembered the victims of the Holocaust from the Švenčionys region at their mass murder site, the Švenčionėliai military base, on October 6, 2019. The mass murder site is the final resting place of about 8,000 Jews from the surrounding area.

Švenčionys Jewish Community chairman Moisej Šapiro said: “Memory is alive and no one is forgotten. Together we must recall from generation to generation the painful fate of the Jewish people, so that the memory of the innocent people who died under such extremely brutal and inhumane circumstances is honored. So that respect and history are maintained for as long as a single citizen of this country lives.”

Participants from Lithuania, Belarus, Sweden, Israel and elsewhere attended. Švenčionys regional administration head Rimantas Klipčius spoke and laid a wreath at the memorial. Pawel Tadeusz Purski, third secretary at the Polish embassy in Vilnius, also participated. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky spoke at the ceremony.

Special Guests from America and Israel at Kaunas Ghetto Concert

Special Guests from America and Israel at Kaunas Ghetto Concert

DELFI.lt

Many Lithuanians know something about the ghetto in Kaunas where tens of thousands of Jews were imprisoned from 1941 to 1944. Nonetheless, even if it’s not a secret, what life was like there behind the walls is a page of history which hasn’t been considered yet. One event in the Kaunas 2022 history festival will spotlight one of the ghetto’s leading lights, the Kaunas ghetto orchestra. On October 20 the music of the “Final Concert” at the Kaunas cultural center will mirror history: performed in the same building where the Gestapo was headquartered during World War II.

Full Lithuanian text here.

Sukkah on the Shore

Sukkah on the Shore

Singer and Yiddish enthusiast Sara Klompus describes spending Sukkot in Lithuania during her time at the Vilnius summer Yiddish program. She remembers the unique experience of celebrating in a special sukkah on the shore in Trakai and in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

This is an excerpt from an oral history with Sara Klompus.

This excerpt is in English.

This interview is part of the Yiddish and the Arts: Musicians, Actors and Artists series.

Cooperation or Collaboration: Who Deserves a Statue in Vilnius?

Cooperation or Collaboration: Who Deserves a Statue in Vilnius?

by Vytautas Plečkaitis, formerly Lithuania’s ambassador to the Ukraine and Switzerland

Seventy years having passed since World War II, disputes over collaboration with the Nazi regime in Germany continue in Lithuania, in neighboring Poland and in other Central and Eastern European countries.

The generation who grew up in the period of freedom and independence want to know the whole truth about the crimes of the Communist regime and the crimes of the German Nazis and those who collaborated with them and took part in the Holocaust. This is demanded of us by basic human nature, and historical memory of the Jewish community who lived in our land [sic] since the time of Vytautas the Great and who were annihilated hasn’t been fully taken into account.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

The Day After the Shootings in Halle and Landsberg

The Day After the Shootings in Halle and Landsberg

A suspect in the shooting in the eastern German city of Halle was arrested Wednesday according to German police. German chancellor Angela Merkel joined mourners holding a silent vigil at Berlin’s main synagogue Wednesday evening.

At least two people were killed in the shootings Wednesday and at least two more wounded. Eye-witnesses at the shooting in Halle said the local synagogue was one of the targets as Jews there marked Yom Kippur.

More in Lithuanian here.

Children Invited to Sukkot Event

Children Invited to Sukkot Event

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Ilan and Dubi Clubs invite children to a fun gathering at 1:00 P.M. on October 13 called “From Rosh Hashanah to Sukkot.” We’ll “dwell” in the Sukkot booth and have traditional Jewish snacks and treats. Lego engineering teachers will be on hand for building and playing. Come to the Ilan Club at the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Registration is required, so call 8 601 46656 or send an email to sofja@lzb.lt

From Rosh Hashanah to Sukkot Celebration

Celebrate “From Rosh Hashanah to Sukkot” at 6:00 P.M. on October 10 at the Lithuanian Jewish Community and come meet members of the LJC’s various programs, including the seniors’ Gesher Club, the Kaveret young families’ club, Israeli dance club Rikudei Am, the Students’ Club and students in the Hebrew courses.

Program: song, dance, traditional Jewish fall treats, an exhibit and sale of Jewish-themed work by Olga Kapustina and musicians and dancers of the Fayerlakh collective.

Registration required. Call 8 678 81514 or write zanas@sc.lzb.lt

Yom Kippur, the Day of Spiritual Cleansing and Hope

Yom Kippur, the Day of Spiritual Cleansing and Hope

The tenth day of the Jewish New Year is the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. It is the only day of the year when the Torah calls upon the person to do nothing at all except reflect upon his actions and thoughts. Contrition over one’s sins.

The prayer Kol Nidrei rings out, a symbol of the entire holiday. It is sung loudly three times. Its motif is wonderful, originating in mediaeval Spain, and is beloved by world-renowned symphony orchestras.

Prayers of remembrance for dead parents are also read during Yom Kuppur. Today we add two more parts: for Holocaust victims and for the soldiers who have fallen defending the State of Israel.

Special significance attaches to the final prayer, which is read at evening twilight. This is the time when forgiveness is sought from the Most High. The plea is either accepted or rejected.

The blowing of the shofar horn concludes the Yom Kippur rituals. The traditional Jewish wish is heard: “Next year in Jerusalem.” Everyone wishes every other “gmar khatima tova,” Hebrew for wishing someone a conclusive entry in the Book of Life.

Simas Levinas, chairman
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Celebrates Rosh Hashanah

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Celebrates Rosh Hashanah

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community celebrated the advent of the new Jewish year 5780 with a dinner and ceremony. Community chairman Naum Gleizer welcomed participants and wished everyone a good, sweet and healthy coming year. Frida Šteinienė began the celebration by lighting candles and saying a prayer. She reminded participants of the significance and traditions of the holiday.

Traditional foods graced the dinner table, including challa, apples with honey, pomegranates, gefilte fish, chicken liver and chopped herring. Community housewives provided traditional Jewish sweets such as teigalakh, imberlakh and apple pie.

Live Jewish song and dance provided by Vadim Kamrazer enlivened the celebration and the children Sofija, Karina and Natanas also sang.

Young and old appeared to have a great time. Animator and children’s event organizer Simona provided a special program for the kids. Every family received the new 5780 Jewish calendar published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Yad Vashem Says Lithuanian President’s Visit Important to Lithuanian Public

Yad Vashem Says Lithuanian President’s Visit Important to Lithuanian Public

Yad Vashem director Avner Shalev says Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda’s attendance at the World Holocaust Forum would be “important to the Lithuanian public.”

At a seminar dedicated to Lithuanian reporters in Jerusalem, director Shalev said he felt Nausėda would bring back an opinion from Jerusalem which would resonate with Lithuanians. “This is very important to us as well that the Lithuanian president express the importance of remembering the Holocaust and combating anti-Semitism.”

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Serge Cwajgenbaum Has Died

1946-2019 z”l

The World Jewish Congress joins the European Jewish Congress and our Jewish communities throughout Europe in mourning the passing of long-time EJC secretary-general and friend Serge Cwajgenbaum z”l.

Serge was a pivotal figure for European Jewry who began his communal engagement with the French Jewish students union, joined the WJC in 1974, headed the French section of the World Jewish Congress and then served as director of World Jewish Congress Europe for many years before the founding of the European Jewish Congress in 1986.

History of the Destruction of the Šiauliai Jewish Cemetery

History of the Destruction of the Šiauliai Jewish Cemetery

Nerijus Brazauskas, PhD, has written a history of the destruction of the old Jewish cemetery in the Lithuanian city of Šiauliai up to 2016. The newspaper Šiaulių kraštas has published the study in Lithuanian on their website. He attempts to determine whether the former cemetery, which is state-protected heritage site, should be protected by the Šiauliai Jewish Community or whether it is a matter for the local municipal administration. He details the partial destruction of the cemetery, along with the complete destruction of the Lutheran cemetery, in the 1964-1965 period by the Soviet authorities and calls it an attempt to erase Jews from public memory. He concludes it should be restored and maintained as a sacred site of memory and says both institutional and civic efforts could be harnessed to that purpose.

Full paper in Lithuanian here.

Lost Yanishok: Two Synagogues and the Last Jewish Woman

Lost Yanishok: Two Synagogues and the Last Jewish Woman

15min.lt

Note: On October 3 Irena Gečienė passed away. The Lithuanian Jewish Community expresses its condolences to her daughter Jurgita and brother Eduardas.

Before the tragic losses of World War II, Joniškis in northern Lithuania was a very Jewish town known as the shtetl of Yanishok with a vibrant Jewish community. Nothing was left after the Holocaust which only a few Jews survived here, as was the case throughout Lithuania. Now only the two restored synagogues and the only living Jew recall that Yanishok.

They Donned White Armbands and Went to Shoot Jews

Irena Gečienė remembers November 27, 1944, when the war hadn’t ended yet, in the town of Žagarė.

Rosh Hashanah at the Panevėžys Jewish Community

Rosh Hashanah at the Panevėžys Jewish Community

The Panevėžys Jewish Community celebrated Rosh Hashanah September 29 at the Park Café. It began with the lighting of candles, then Community chairman Gennady Kofman read a prayer for the new year, 5780, and Michailas Grafman blew the shofar horn.

Community member ate traditional foods such as apples dipped in honey, pomegranates, gefilte fish and challa bread. Children received presents and learned about Jewish traditions. At the end of the celebration the new Jewish calendar published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Chairman Kofman read out greetings from Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and from Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Yossi Levy. Greetings were also received from LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and the heads of Lithuania’s regional Jewish communities.