EJC President Slams Decision by Austrian Freedom Party to Appoint Anti-Semite to Upper House of Parliament

EJC President Slams Decision by Austrian Freedom Party to Appoint Anti-Semite to Upper House of Parliament

Brussels, November 25, 2020–European Jewish Congress president Dr. Moshe Kantor has expressed outrage after the Austrian Freedom Party appointed former foreign affairs spokesman Johannes Hübner to the Bundesrat, which is the equivalent of Austria’s Senate. In 2017 Hübner aborted an attempt to run for parliament after an anti-Semitic comment he shared at a far-right event in Germany the previous year was aired.

“The Freedom Party have claimed that they have left their anti-Semitic past behind them and have recently tried to revive their reputation, but this appointment represents a huge step backwards,” Dr. Kantor said. “It is unconscionable that a renowned anti-Semite would be given such a respectable position.”

“We call on the Freedom Party to rescind this decision and to once again turn away from its sordid anti=Semitic past,” Kantor concluded.

Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish community of Vienna, added: “The political return of Mr. Hübner is a confirmation of the lack of credibility of the Freedom Party. This is exactly what happened with Udo Landbauer who resigned after his student fraternity’s Nazi song books were seized and then came back as a regional party leader.”

Happy Birthday,  Holem Shapsai

Happy Birthday, Holem Shapsai

The Lithuanian Jewish Community wishes a very happy birthday to Holem Shapsai, former ghetto prisoner, he survived the Holocaust until his liberation at the Dachau concentration camp complex. We wish him great health, strength and many more years to come. We know and love his wonderful sense of humor, his sincerity and his great knowledge.

Mazl tov! Bis 120!

Dr. Moshe Kantor Re-Elected President of the EJC

Dr. Moshe Kantor Re-Elected President of the EJC

Dr. Moshe Kantor has been re-elected the president of the European Jewish Congress by representatives of European Jewish communities. A press release from the EJC said there were no election violations and voting was safe and credible in the vote of confidence.

Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was re-elected head of the EJC’s executive committee.

“I am honored and I feel the support shown by the Jewish leaders and communities across the entire Continent,” Dr. Kantor said. “European Jews are a powerful force in the Jewish world; we have remained in the forefront in fighting anti-Semitism, defending Jewish traditions and reviving Jewish communities and institutions.”

In recent months the EJC under Kantor’s leadership has undertaken new action helping provide support to Jewish communities and institutions, including schools, community centers and other organizations vitally important to European Jews facing the complex challenge of the corona virus epidemic.

Happy Birthday, Libė Britanskina

Happy Birthday, Libė Britanskina

The Lithuanian Jewish Community sends heartfelt congratulations to Libė Britanskina on her milestone birthday and we wish you a happy birthday, great health and much joy!

Libė is said to the be the only Jew left from Utena and is an active member of the Community and our seniors club.

Mazl tov! May you live to 120!

Ruling Peasants’ Party Leader Says Genocide Center Won’t Get Square

Ramūnas Karbauskis, the head of the ruling Union of Lithuanian Peasants and Greens said the current parliament won’t consider amendments handing Vilnius’s Lukiškės Square over to the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania. The square is located across the street from the center which is housed in the former Gestapo and KGB headquarters.

He said previously the draft amendments would return to the parliamentary floor from committee after elections. On Thursday Karbauskis said it wouldn’t make sense to do so now as a new ruling majority is being formed.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Condolences

The Lithuanian Jewish Community together with the World Jewish Congress mourn the passing of UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

We have lost an extraordinarily profound intellect and theologian of deep moral convictions. Rabbi Sacks was a moving speaker and a wonderful writer whose teachings reached Jews and Gentiles, connecting Jewish tradition with modern thinking. His writings, especially his weekly Torah portions, will set an example for future generations.

We extend our deepest condolences to Lord Sacks’s wife Eilaine and their family. May his memory remain as a source of great inspiration.

Vilna Gaon Commemorative Coin Causing Consternation among Collectors

Vilna Gaon Commemorative Coin Causing Consternation among Collectors

Some coin collectors who weren’t able to purchase the Vilna Gaon 300th birthday commemorative coin issued recently by the Bank of Lithuania are saying the release was a carefully-planned scam for a small group of people to get rich.

Bank of Lithuania officials said they found this reaction strange because anyone who wanted the coin was able to purchase two of them in early sales on the internet. The coin was officially released to the public on October 20, but weren’t available for sale at banks in Vilnius and Kaunas that day. Instead there was a flood of resellers offering the coin at inflated prices. The central Bank of Lithuania sold the coin for 62 euros, while in the initial days of the official release internet speculators offered it for hundreds of euros, and the asking price later climbed.

A week later vendors were asking for up to 990 dollars, or 846 euros, on ebay.com, and one Lithuanian internet commerce site asked for 1,500 euros for one coin. That vendor’s offer was exceptional, but others sold the coin for from 500 to 600 euros.

World Jewish Congress President Mourns Death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

NEW YORK–The World Jewish Congress mourns the death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and one of the spiritual and intellectual giants of contemporary Judaism.

Reacting to the news, WJC president Ronald S. Lauder declared: “The World Jewish Congress and the entire Jewish world are profoundly saddened by the passing of former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. A theologian of extraordinary intellectual depth and moral conviction, Rabbi Sacks was a riveting orator and brilliant author who brought the timeless teachings of Jewish scripture to both Jews and non-Jews alike, fusing Jewish tradition with modern thought. His writings, including–and perhaps especially–his commentaries on the weekly Torah portion will be cherished by future generations. He was also a pillar of integrity who inspired Jews and non-Jews alike.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Lord Sacks’s wife Elaine and their family. May they and the whole house of Israel be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and may his memory be an everlasting blessing and source of inspiration.”

Bake Challa at Home and Join Millions in the #ShabesatHome Project

Bake Challa at Home and Join Millions in the #ShabesatHome Project

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites you to join millions of other Jews around the world and join the #ShabesatHome initiative. The Lithuanian side of the initiative known as #Šabasnamuose will include the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium and the Vilnius, Kaunas, Panevėžys, Šiauliai, Ukmergė and Švenčionys communities are invited as well to join up by internet right now, Friday, November 6. Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas, LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and her granddaughter Esther will also be on hand.

Social media announcements: #ManoŽydiškaKelionė #ŽydųKultūrosMetai #ShabesatHome #ŽyduKultūrosDiena #Šabasnamuose #KeepingItTogether #GeroŠabato

For more information, contact Dovilė Rūkaitė at projects@lzb.lt (before the sun goes down).

New Archaeological Discoveries at Pakruojis Synagogue Complex

New Archaeological Discoveries at Pakruojis Synagogue Complex

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, Pakruojis regional administration mayor Saulius Margis, administration director Ilona Gelažnikienė, deputy mayor Virginijus Kacilevičius and others attended a lecture by Dr. Ernestas Vasiliauskas presenting new archaeological discoveries at the Pakruojis synagogue complex.

The Pakruojis regional administration reports:

Dr. Ernestas Vasiliauskas gave a presentation October 14 detailing the newest archaeological discoveries in the winter synagogue and shtibl at the Pakruojis synagogue complex. The project “Maintenance of the City Park and the Banks of the Kruoja River in the City of Pakruojis” decided to perform the archaeology in concert with the Cultural Heritage Department of the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture.

There is a lot of surviving information about the summer synagogue in Pakruojis, but very little about the winter synagogue and the shtibl. Senior archaeologist Dr. Vasiliauskas said the wooden synagogue complex built in the 19th century in Pakruojis is unique in Lithuania and blends different architectural styles, including late baroque (summer synagogue), classicism (winter synagogue) and traditional architecture (the shtibl), and was an important part of the cityscape, one of the dominant buildings on the Pakruojis skyline.

Day Camp at LJC Canceled Due to New Virus Levels

The earlier-announced children’s day club which would have been held at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius has been canceled because of increasing levels of corona virus infections in the general population. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Regarding the Activities of the Cantor of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

Regarding the Activities of the Cantor of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

The cantor or khazan is the main singer of prayers at synagogue. At the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius some very famous cantors have sung, including Mordechajus Geršmanas, Noach Zeludkovsky, Abraomas Bernšteinas and Elias Zaludkowsky. World-famous cantor Josef Malovani also sang at the synagogue in 2002 and he was elected honorary cantor of our synagogue as well.

Since 2008 the original and special cantor Shmuel Yatom has worked at the Choral Synagogue. He is well known throughout the Lithuanian Jewish communities and is constantly invited to them. He is the only professional cantor in Lithuania.

The Vilnius synagogue has established rather strict requirements during the current virus outbreak, requirements which are also recommended by the Lithuanian Government, including taking the temperature of all minyan members, use of face masks, disinfecting pews and door handles and constant ventilation of the space.

Torah reading takes place from the bimah, a raised platform intended exclusively for Torah reading. It is a small space where four people just barely fit: the cantor, two minyan members who supervise the reading of the Torah passage to insure against errors and the guest who reads the words of the blessing. All can wear masks, but this is difficult for the cantor, because the words he reads out must be heard throughout the synagogue by all in attendance there.

A recent meeting of the synagogue’s executive board resolved to recommend the cantor temporarily not travel to events at the regional communities.

In the name of the minyan, we apologize to the communities that the cantor of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius will not be able to participate at their important events for the time being.

Simas Levinas, chairman
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community