Court Gives Go-Ahead on Palace of Sports Reconstruction

Court Gives Go-Ahead on Palace of Sports Reconstruction

15min.lt

The Vilnius Municipal District Court rejected a suit filed by Israeli citizens seeking an injunction to stop construction planned on the former Palace of Sports in Vilnius and protection of former Jewish cemetery grounds around the site.

The court found Lithuania’s state privatization bank Turto Bankas had acted properly. The court said the institution knew of the importance of the cemetery and the need to protect it, and that due attention would be paid to commemorating the site during reconstruction.

Turto Bankas director Mindaugas Sinkevičius said: “Not only are we following all binding laws, but the Government has also made it incumbent upon us that we work with the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe. So Jewish religious beliefs and laws will be taken into account during reconstruction. Both preparatory work and construction later will be performed under the supervision of rabbis in order to safeguard human remains and graves and preserve this site for the future.”

Full article in Lithuanian here.

Germany: Synagogues Vandalized, Anti-Jewish Marches for Palestine

Germany: Synagogues Vandalized, Anti-Jewish Marches for Palestine

Police vehicle at synagogue in Bonn, Germany. Photo courtesy Deutsche Welle.

Amid Israel’s heightened tensions two synagogues and a memorial site have been vandalized in Germany. Lawmakers and religious leaders said the acts were “shameful” and called for greater protection for places of worship.

All three incidents occurred Tuesday night in the cities of Bonn, Düsseldorf and Münster in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The incidents were reportedly motivated by the current violence in Israel and Gaza.

German broadcaster RTL reported a march by Palestine supporters outside a synagogue in Gelsenirchen also in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia Wednesday night which included the shouting of anti-Semitic slogans.RTL also reported a pro-Palestinian march in Hamburg. They reported increased security around synagogues in Germany and mentioned the city of Hesse in particular.

Full stories here and here.

Litvaks in Israel Talk about Horrific Attacks

Litvaks in Israel Talk about Horrific Attacks

by Birutė Vyšniauskaitė, lrt.lt

“It was very cozy and even fun because all the neighbors gathered in one hiding place. We also took in a married couple from the neighboring building because they didn’t have anywhere to hide after the danger signal,” Litvak woman Dusia Lan Kretchmer told Lrytas.lt about the Hamas rocket attacks on Tel Aviv Wednesday night. She left Lithuania about 50 years ago.

Kretchmer said she was in disbelief Hamas rockets were targeting Lod, the city on the way towards Israel’s main Ben-Gurion International Airport, on Wednesday.

“I have taught chemistry for twenty years in this city. Over that entire time I have witnessed Jews and Arabs living together in peace. Many times I have celebrated holidays with the city’s communities, Arabs celebrated their holidays with Jews, Jews with Arabs. So many Arabs live there, I can’t wrap my head around why Hamas would take aim at their own people,” she said.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Virtual Sabbath Discussions Continue

Virtual Sabbath Discussions Continue

We invite you to a virtual Sabbath discussion at 7:00 P.M. on May 15 of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot or Shavuos, moderated by Vijamas Žitkauskas. We will discuss the significance and traditions of the Feast of Weeks as it is known in English. The discussion will be held in Russian and prior registration is required. Registration form here.

Condolences

We are ad to report the death on May 13 of long-time member Lidija Kazmina. She was born in 1927. We extend our deepest condolences to her children and grandchildren.

Newly Renovated Synagogue in Žiežmariai to Host Cultural Events

Newly Renovated Synagogue in Žiežmariai to Host Cultural Events

The renovated synagogue in Žiežmariai will become a new cultural center. The first synagogue in appeared sometime between 1690 and 1696. In the 19th century there three synagogues. Not surprising, since the majority of the population were Jewish. This synagogue which has survived and has now been renovated stands in the southern part of town between Vilniaus and Žalgirio streets, with the Strėva river flowing from southeastward from there. This synagogue was build in the mid-19th century and is one of only a handful of surviving wooden synagogues in Lithuania.

The plan is to use the refurbished synagogue to host cultural exhibits and events.

“At first there was doubt the synagogue could even be saved. It was so abandoned and ruined. Even so, we resolved to renovate it and now we are very proud we have such a beautiful building,” director of the Strategic Planning and Investment Department of the Kaišiadorys Regional Administration Ramutė Taparauskienė said.

LJC Holds Virtual Sabbath with Rabbi Nathan Alfred of European Union for Progressive Judaism

LJC Holds Virtual Sabbath with Rabbi Nathan Alfred of European Union for Progressive Judaism

The Lithuanian Jewish Community held a joint virtual Sabbath celebration with Rabbi Nathan Alfred of the European Union for Progressive Judaism last Friday. The meeting included cantorial students from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Portugal and other countries in Europe. Participants sang hymns and Sabbath prayers. LJC program director Viljamas Žitkauskas set up the virtual meeting.

Condolences

Izrail GInzburg passed away May 8. He was born in 1929. We send our deepest condolences to his wife, daughters and loved ones.

Police Mull Limiting or Canceling Jerusalem Day Events amid Violence, Tensions

Police Mull Limiting or Canceling Jerusalem Day Events amid Violence, Tensions

Photo: Israelis gather at the Old City’s Damascus gate in Jerusalem on June 2, 2019, to celebrate Jerusalem Day. Photo by Menahem Kahana/AFP.

Security officials said to warn cabinet that Flag March could lead to escalation; police source says cops told to avoid live fire amid fears fatalities will exacerbate tensions

Security officials are reportedly considering placing limits on Jerusalem Day events or canceling them entirely, as tensions remained high in the capital with further violence at the conclusion of Sunday morning prayers.

According to Hebrew media reports, the fast-moving situation meant that police were holding assessments every few hours to leave all options on the table for as long as possible ahead of the commemorations set to begin on Sunday evening.

Additionally, the Haaretz daily reported that security officials warned the cabinet that the contentious Flag March set to be held on Monday could lead to an escalation in violence.

Full story here.

Interview for Jerusalem Day with Chargé d’Affaires Adi Cohen-Hazanov at Israeli Embassy to Lithuania

Interview for Jerusalem Day with Chargé d’Affaires Adi Cohen-Hazanov at Israeli Embassy to Lithuania

On May 9, Israel will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim. Tell us more about this day and its significance.

Prior to the founding of the State of Israel, Jerusalem had different rulers, but it was always part of the prayer and the identity of the Jewish people. We have always called Jerusalem our eternal capital.

All the synagogues of the world are built in such a way that the prayers are directed towards Jerusalem, and during our two most important festivals–Pesach and Yom Kipur—we wish to meet each other in Jerusalem next year. Today, Jerusalem is also mentioned in our anthem: “The Land of Zion and Jerusalem” (in Hebrew, Zion is used as a synonym for the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel).

On June 27, 1967, Israel won the Six-Day War and regained its historic capital, Jerusalem, which was later recognized as the official capital of Israel by the country’s parliament. Twenty years later, on the 28th day of the month of Iyar in 1998, Yom Yerushalayim was declared a public holiday.

Three Interwar Lithuanian Republic Exhibits Displayed for First Time in Kaunas

Three Interwar Lithuanian Republic Exhibits Displayed for First Time in Kaunas

On May 6 the Atomic Bunker military heritage museum in Kaunas put on display three exhibits featuring items from museum founder Julius Urbaitis’s personal collection which he called a part of the history of Kaunas as the Lithuanian provisional capital in the interwar Republic.

The three exhibits are:

1. Goods and items from the D. Rozmarin manufactory and colonial goods [dried and canned goods and non-perhishables in general] store;
2. Ironworks and smithing equipment from the heirs of B. Rabinovitch;
3. Charming amateur and academic works commemorating anniversary of grand duke Vytautas the Great celebrated in 1930.

Kaunas mayor Matijošaitis, LJC chairwoman Kukliansky, Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Žakas, Volfas Engelman brewery general director Horbačauskas, Rūta company director Pridotkas and other honored guests attended the opening of the three exhibits.

Our respect and gratitude go to Julius Urbaitis for his concern for Jewish history and the contribution Jews made in establishing the first independent Republic of Lithuania. LJC chairwoman Kukliansky presented Urbaitis the commemorative medallion of the Lithuanian Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History for this initiative of his and its implementation.

LJC Chairwoman Visits Veterans for Victory Day

LJC Chairwoman Visits Veterans for Victory Day

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky personally visited World War II veterans in their homes to congratulate them on Victory Day. There are only six such veterans known to be resident in Vilnius. Warm wishes and congratulations to RIva Spiz, Aleksandr Asovski, Boris Lipnicki, Fania Brantsovksaya, Eliziejus Rimanas and Tatyana Arkhipova-Efros.

Condolences

Holocaust survivor and historian and Jewish partisan Yitzhak Arad died May 6 at the age of 95 in Israel. He was one of the founders and the first director of the Yad Vashem memorial institute in Jerusalem. He also achieved the rank of brigadier general in the IDF. He was born in Švenčionys (Shventsian), Lithuania, in 1926, moved with his parents to Warsaw and escaped back into Lithuania with his sister at the onset of World War II. He escaped the Švenčionys ghetto and joined partisans in the forests in Belarus. In 1945 he went to Israel where he fought in four wars and was later appointed director of military education. He served in the Israeli military for 25 years and was appointed to head Yad Vashem in 1972. He earned a doctorate at Tel Aviv University and taught Jewish history, authoring numerous books about the Holocaust.

Our deepest condolences to his family and friends for their loss.

EJC President Applauds EU Declaration to Fight Anti-Semitism at All Levels

EJC President Applauds EU Declaration to Fight Anti-Semitism at All Levels

Brussels, December 2, 2020–European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor applauds the European Union Council Declaration on mainstreaming the fight against anti-Semitism across policy-areas, adopted unanimously by EU member states.

“This is an important decision, one that appreciates the sad growth of anti-Semitism and how it not only targets Jews, but is corrosive for any society,” Kantor said. “The EU firmly states that anti-Semitism is against European values and commits itself to a holistic program to eradicate it from the continent.”

“We are delighted that our strong message that fighting anti-Semitism robustly at all levels, that we have consistently delivered in our meetings and activities, is received.”

“The declaration adopted by the German presidency of the Council affirms several principles, including that anti-Semitism is an attack on European values, that protecting Jewish life and making it more visible as part of Europe’s identity is essential and that it is necessary to combat anti-Semitism head-on in all its forms, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The importance that the EU is placing on protecting and emboldening Jewish life is also very important,” Dr. Kantor continued. “Jews have been a part of Europe for millennia and continue to contribute at all levels, so it is very gratifying to hear that our leaders will ensure that Jewish life will not only be protected but making it more visible.”

Jerusalem Day Celebration in Vilnius This Weekend

Jerusalem Day Celebration in Vilnius This Weekend

Jerusalem Day, Yom Yerushalaim, will be celebrated on May 9 and 10 this year in Israel. Vilnius, the Jerusalem of Lithuania, is also celebrating the day. The Israeli embassy in conjunction with the Lithuanian Theater, Music and Cinema Museum is staging an exhibit of contemporary international photography featuring the holy city called “Jerusalem as a City of Culture.” From May 6 to 9 beginning at 9:00 P.M. each evening the exhibit will be projected on the wall of the Salomėja Nėris Gymnaisum on Vilniaus street in the Vilnius Old Town. The exhibit features works by artists from around the world featuring the city of Jerusalem, its charm and spirit.

This project by Israeli artist Adi Yekutieli is part of the My Jerusalem project and will be demonstrated in cities around the world this year. It includes photography by Lithuania’s Giedrė Mikalauskaitė called “Spiritual Light of Jerusalem.”

Ceremony to Commemorate Victims of World War II

Ceremony to Commemorate Victims of World War II

A small, closed ceremony will be held at noon on May 7 to commemorate the victims of World War II at the Sudervės road Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. LJC chairwoman Fainia Kukliansky, LJC representatives and foreign diplomats are scheduled to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at monuments commemorating ghetto victims and lost children. Because of wide-spread fears of viral contamination the ceremony won’t be open to the public and no further official commemoration ceremony to mark Victory Day will be held in Vilnius this year.

Happy Birthday to Adasa Skliutauskaitė

Happy Birthday to Adasa Skliutauskaitė

We wish Adasa Skliutauskaitė a happy birthday this milestone year and have sent her a bouquet of flowers in the name of the Community.

We sincerely congratulate the accomplished painter, graphic artist and puppeteer and wish her many warm moments in daily life, wonderful pictures and that she continue to enchant us with her extraordinary enthusiasm and colors. May the passage of the years never change the warmth of your eyes and heart. We wish you a long and beautiful life.

Be healthy and happy.

Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Visits Lost Shtetl Museum in Šeduva

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Visits Lost Shtetl Museum in Šeduva

Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis visited the site of the Lost Shtetl Museum being built in Šeduva in central Lithuania May 4.

“The future modern museum in Šeduva will better showcase the extraordinarily rich history and legacy of the Litvaks for Lithuanians and the world. I sincerely thank the initiators and executors of the project,” he said.

The private initiative is supported by the Šeduva Foundation created by Jews with roots in the town and is being carried out in cooperation with the Radviliškis regional administration.