Condolences

With great sadness we report the death of Liudmila Grafman after a long battle with chronic illness. She was born in 1952. The Panevėžys Jewish Community sends our deepest condolences to her husband Michailas, daughters Julija and Simona, son Jurijus and her grandchildren and friends for their loss. We mourn with the family.

Launch of Book about Jews of Švėkšna

Launch of Book about Jews of Švėkšna

Monika Žąsytienė, a Bagel Shop project volunteer and museum specialist, has written a book called “Švėkšnos žydų bendruomenė XVII–XX a.” [The Jewish Community of Švėkšna from the 17th to the 20th Century].

The Bagel Shop Café will host the launch of the new book at 6:00 P.M. on February 19. Register here.

According to the author, the book makes no pretense of being an historical work. Instead, Monika Žąsytienė sought to bring together local lore and regional history for future work on the subject. She made use of material from Lithuanian archives, Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C. Some of the information–testimonies, memoirs, correspondence in Yiddish, Hebrew, German and English–appears for the first time in Lithuanian in her book.

Fate of Litvaks in the Holocaust in Yad Vasherm Documents and Projects

Fate of Litvaks in the Holocaust in Yad Vasherm Documents and Projects

Serafima Velkovich from Israel delivered a public lecture at the Chaim Frankel villa on February 14, 2019, called “The Fate of Litvaks in the Holocaust in Yad Vasherm Documents and Projects.” The event was intended to mark the 75th anniversary of the liquidation of the Šiauliai ghetto. The lecture was in English with simultaneous translation to Lithuania. Velkovich works in the archives of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial institute in Israel. The event was attended by members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, Lithuanian MP Stasiys Tumėnas’s advisor Nerijus Brazauskas, representatives of the local municipal and regional administrations, employees from the Aušra, Joniškis and Pakruojis Museums, high school students from Šiauliai and local public figures and members of the public.

The event was organized by the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community. Partners included the Goodwill Foundation, the International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania, the Aušra Museum in Šiauliai, the Klaipėda Jewish Religious Community, the Kaunas Jewish Religious Community, the Conference of European Rabbis, descendants of Litvaks abroad, the Panevėžys Jewish Support Association and the Jewish Cultural Heritage Route Association.

Results of First Parenting Course

Results of First Parenting Course

The first series of parenting skills classes put on by the Social Programs Department of the Lithuanian Jewish Community has ended. The classes were held for three months and included practical tasks as well as theory with activities led by a specialist. Activities initiator and organizer Rashele Šeraitė said the parents were enthusiastic students, rarely missed a class, always had their homework done, openly shared their problems with the group and applied what they learned in real life, in their own families.

This time parents of teenagers were selected as the target group. These parents face perhaps the greatest challenges, from maintaining good relationships to teenage rebellion and the search for independence. Although it wasn’t easy for the parents, during group meetings they cheerfully shared how they had applied their new knowledge and how relationships in the family changed for the better, with new rituals, new rules and openness at home. There was more sincere discussion, confidence and respect within the family, they reported. Parents said their children had started finally to listen to them, and parents had also learned how to relate to their children as equals.

Bagel Shop Celebrates Third Birthday

Bagel Shop Celebrates Third Birthday

The Bagel Shop Café is the café the Lithuanian Jewish Community opened three years ago on the first floor. Celebrating Litvak culinary heritage and traditions, the Bagel Shop makes bagels according to a family recipe and makes Sabbath challa every Friday, as well as many other items, and special foods on holidays. It began as an idea in 2014, as part of a tolerance campaign of the same name sponsored in part by a grant from Norway and aimed at fighting discrimination and anti-Semitism. Eventually the Bagel Shop became a real bagel shop.

Three years later, we’ve decided to surprise our customers and visitors with a presentation of Israeli street food and culture. Throughout February we’ll be baking pita, making falafel and talking about food.

Everyone’s invited at 10:00 A.M. on Sunday, February 17, to an educational celebration at the LJC where you’ll have the opportunity to sample falafel and sabih made the Israeli way, with musical accompaniment. Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon will talk about Israeli street food and Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky will teach on the topic of kosher food. Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas is to take part in the event and synagogue cantor Shmuel Yatom will perform. Visitors will also have the chance to speak personally with Bagel Shop chef Riva Portnaja and others about Jewish cuisine.

Falafel, Cabbage, Gentrification and a Sense of Community

Falafel, Cabbage, Gentrification and a Sense of Community

You might have noticed recent items about the Bagel Shop Café and Israeli street food during the snowy month of February. We asked Community members and friends about the joy of life and sense of community to be discovered in eating and food.

Our chef Riva makes the best shakshuka in Vilnius although she prefers burek. We recommend you visit the site of the shakshuka cult in Tel Aviv. Our version comes from there, so what is burek? These are flaky layered pastry with all sorts of filling, including spinach, mushrooms and potatoes. We make it with scrambled egg as well. Riva buys these at bakeries on the street in Israel which overflow with baked goods Friday mornings and where it is difficult to even take it all in. Riva’s discovery this culinary season is cabbage from Jaffa. Expect a surprise!

Dobrė Rozenbergienė: Before I Could Turn Around Mother Was Gone

Dobrė Rozenbergienė: Before I Could Turn Around Mother Was Gone

by Jurgita Lieponė

“It’s impossible to tell of that horror and hunger,” Kaunas Jewish Community member Dobrė Rozenbergienė said. Her story along with the stories of those who suffered a similar fate are buried deep. And if you encountered these people on the street or at the store, next to the dairy products, you wouldn’t even think that standing before you is someone who survived the impossible. Or that for him the word “action” isn’t associated with a sale at a shopping center at all, but with the some of the worst memories. Sometimes words are more than just words.

Dobrė Rozenbergienė was born in Jurbarkas in 1928, where she lived with her parents Motel Most and Brokhe Fidler and her brother Israel until World War II. The Most family shared the home with her mother’s cousin’s family. The war left its mark on the family’s fate and as a child Dobrė experienced the loss of her closest family members. She shared her memories with the curators of the Memory Bureau project of the Kaunas as European Capital of Culture program.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

CRIF Calls for National Response to Surge in Anti-Semitism in France

CRIF Calls for National Response to Surge in Anti-Semitism in France

CRIF
CONSEIL REPRÉSENTIF DES INSTITUTIONS JUIVES DE FRANCE

Paris, le 12 février 2019

Press release

CRIF calls for a national bounce against anti-Semitism

French interior minister Christophe Castaner announced anti-Semitic acts increased by 74% in 2018. This reflects a disturbing release of anti-Jewish hatred.

Portraits of Simone Veil desecrated with swastikas, the grove in memory of Ilan Halimi vandalized, the tag Juden on a shop window in Paris … the last days alone testify to the banalization and violence of anti-Semitism in France in 2019.

CRIF recalls these statistics do not include acts which did not lead to a complaint, nor anti-Semitic publications on internet. Thus they reflect only very partially the reality of “everyday anti-Semitism” faced by French Jews.

CRIF is concerned by the violence of the anti-Semitism on social networks which contributes to the inculcation of anti-Semitism and conspiracy in the minds of the younger generation.

For CRIF, the general plans set up to fight hatred appear ineffective, unfortunately. It is now necessary to provide targeted responses to each instance of the hate which is tearing our society apart.

President Francis Kalifat is calling for a “national bounce against anti-Semitism.” He emphasizes: “beyond being a threat to Jews, anti-Semitism is a sign of the weakening of democracy in our country. On the eve of the anniversary of the assassination of Ilan Halimi, CRIF is hoping for a welcome bounce from French society to break the wall of indifference which surrounds anti-Semitism.”

Lithuanian State Auditor’s Office Completes Annual Audit of Goodwill Foundation

Lithuanian State Auditor’s Office Completes Annual Audit of Goodwill Foundation

The Lithuanian State Auditor’s Office has completed an annual audit of the Goodwill Foundation for the proper management, use and disbursement of state budget funds in the year 2018. The audit was conducted according to the requirements of the Lithuanian State Auditor’s Office and to the highest standards of international auditing agencies.

The Lithuanian State Auditor’s Office’s audit of the proper management, use and disbursement of funds the Lithuanian Government Chancellery allocated to the Goodwill Foundation in 2018 found there had been no violations.

The audit report can be viewed in Lithuanian here.

Lithuanian State Auditor’s Office press release here.

Close Ties between States of Lithuania and Israel Strengthen Cultural Cooperation

Close Ties between States of Lithuania and Israel Strengthen Cultural Cooperation

Cultural cooperation between Israel and Lithuania is gaining momentum through joint projects and upcoming events discussed by Lithuanian minister of culture Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas and Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon.

The Lithuanian cultural festival Lithuanian History to be held from March to June in Tel Aviv was cited as an example of intense cultural cooperation. This is one of the most remarkable Lithuanian cultural projects to be held abroad in 2019. Lithuanian cultural organizations working together closely with Israeli cultural organizations will present Lithuanian literature, music, modern dance, documentary cinema and visual arts. The festival will likely strengthen ties between Lithuanian and Israeli cultural organizations and promote Lithuanian culture in Israel.

The meeting between the Lithuanian minister and the Israeli ambassador discussed how more active exchanges of cultural workers between Israel and Lithuania should encourage the drafting of a 2019-2022 program of Lithuanian and Israeli cooperation in the areas of education, academia, culture, youth affairs and athletics with a significant emphasis on culture.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Launch of Aaron Garon’s Vilnius Jewish World

Launch of Aaron Garon’s Vilnius Jewish World

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will host the launch of Aaron Garon’s (1919-2009) “Vilnius Jewish World” at 3:00 P.M. on February 17.

Participants are to include his daughter Tamara Garon, son Eugenijus Garon, Fania Brancovskaja, Simas Levinas, signatory to the Lithuanian Restoration of Independence Act Česlovas Juršėnas, Faina Kukliansky, publisher Stasys Lipskis, Maša Grodnikienė and Milan Chersonski.

“Vilnius Jewish World” is a collection of articles published in periodicals in Yiddish by famous journalist Aaron Garon illustrated with archival photographs. Most of the texts in the book are eye-witness accounts of Jewish Vilna in the interwar period.

Garon was born in Vilnius and most of his life was connected with his beloved city.

For more information call (8 5) 261 3003.

Trump Names Anti-Semitism Czar

Trump Names Anti-Semitism Czar

United States secretary of state Mike Pompeo Wednesday appointed former soldier and prosecutor Elan Carr president Donald Trump’s special envoy for monitoring and fighting anti-Semitism.

World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder hailed Trump’s decision, expressing hope veteran Elan Carr would perform these complex duties of special concern well.

Anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise world-wide and in the United States, Lauder said, adding the US is long the leader in the fight against anti-Semitism, and that Trump by naming a special czar for tackling the issue had made a decisive and positive step confirming his government’s moral leadership in this area and calming fears in the Jewish community over support for Jews and insuring a secure life for Jews.

Rabbi Joel Meyers, president of the American chapter of the WJC, said anti-Semitism remains a constant problem and there was no hope it would simply disappear without specific and well-thought-out steps taken to eradicate it. During the shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue Americans realized the danger of anti-Semitism, he said, saying people around the world must do all they can to stop these kinds of violent attacks. He said nobody–Jew or non-Jew–should have to live in fear of their life and property, and it is our duty to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Hike for Scouts

The Jewish Scouts of Lithuania invite children, teenagers and parents on a hike from the synagogue in Žasliai to the synagogue in Žiežmariai. If your child is 14 or older he/she may participate independently, but all younger hikers need to be accompanied by their parents. The event will include scouting entertainment, a bonfire, a guided tour of the newly-renovated synagogue in Žiežmariai and snacks. The hike will take place on February 17. The start of the hike is reachable from both the Vilnius and Kaunas central railroad stations and the plan is to return hikers to the Vilnius and Kaunas central bus stations. More information is available in Lithuanian here and you may also contact Renaldas at renaldas@lzb.lt for additional information. Parents need to sign a permission form here and send it to renaldas@lzb by February 11.

Israeli Street Food at the Bagel Shop

Have you noticed street food is replacing fast food? Or maybe fast food is going to the streets? Groups of friends meet and sample incredible tastes at picnic tables with chairs tossed around chaotically in undefined spaces. Vilnius has a number of such street-food outlets now, open to the air even in winter or hiding between booths in a covered market serving simple meals. The ferment and throng of humanity are almost more important than the food itself, jostling in line to be served. Come experience the balagan (chaos) at the Bagel Shop Café’s third birthday in the first two-and-a-half weeks of February. We’ll be serving Israeli street food with a special menu including falafel, sabih and other pita sandwiches and dishes. You can vote for your favorite and the winner will become an item on our permanent menu. The main birthday party will be all day on February 17, starting at 10:00 A.M. and culminating in a concert in the early afternoon.

Complete balagan program available in Lithuanian here.