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.
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
The Torah itself witnesses: I am Wisdom, who found a haven in Eliyahu’s soul, and through him was revealed to the world.
This fragment of the epithet inscribed on the headstone commemorating Eliyahu ben Solomon Zalman reflects well the significance of the Vilna Gaon for Litvak and global Jewish culture. As Lithuanian marks 2020 as the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak Culture, the Martynas Mažvydas National Library is contributing with an exhibit of publications and documents called “The Year of Eliyahu: The Vilna Gaon’s Influence on Litvak Culture.”
The exhibit showcases the Gaon’s biography, personality and intellectual and pedagogical activity as well as his influence over Vilnius Jews, on their mentality and culture. Documents illustrating the sage’s life and works by the Gaon and his followers will be displayed. One of the major items is the pinkos of the synagogue of the Vilna Gaon conserved by the YIVO institute in New York City. This document, a compendium of vital statistics of the Jewish community, will be exhibited using a holographic projection system. The exhibit will also showcase the abundant and diverse Judaica collection conserved at Lithuania’s National Library.
The opening ceremony will be held in the atrium on the third floor at 5:30 P.M. on Tuesday, October 20, and will include a musical performance and installation employing modern audio-visual technology to transform an ancient text into a tale, providing a hint into the Gaon’s thought-processes.
The exhibit will also feature the issue of the Bank of Lithuania’s 10-euro silver coin commemorating the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Vilna Gaon, designed by our own Victoria Sideraitė-Alon, Jūratė Juozėnienė and Albinas Šimanauskas.
Psychologist Dr. Ruth Reches will present her book called “Holokaustą patyrusių asmenų tapatumo išgyvenimas” [The Experience of Identity by People Who Survived the Holocaust] at a special event at 6:00 P.M. on Monday, October 19, 2020, at the Bagel Shop Café at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius. The event in Lithuanian will include a panel moderated by Vytautas Magnus University lecturer and philosopher Algirdas Davidavičius. Guests will be asked to wear masks. Please report your intention to attend by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 12, 2020–European Jewish Congress president Dr. Moshe Kantor has welcomed the decision by Facebook to ban Holocaust denial and distortion and to better inform the public about the Holocaust.
“This is a long overdue but an important decision,” Dr. Kantor said. “Holocaust denial is not legitimate debate and is only used as an expression of hatred for Jews, so this decision is not about anything except limiting hate and anti-Semitism.”
Dr. Kantor, who is also the president of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, welcomed concerted efforts by governments, IT companies and civil society to counter the proliferation of online hatred conspiracy myths and Holocaust denial.
“At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise and knowledge about the Holocaust among young people is alarmingly low, it is crucial that online platforms continue to become part of the solution, not the problem,” Dr. Kantor said.
“This is an issue that the European Jewish Congress has long advocated for, and we thank Facebook for its regular and productive discussions with us and other Jewish organizations, both at the European and global level,” Dr. Kantor concluded.
Full statement here.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community is again offering Hebrew classes to the general public, starting October 18 and continuing every Sunday. Beginner and intermediate levels are available. To register, send an e-mail to email@example.com
Facebook has explicitly banned Holocaust denial for the first time.
The social network said its new policy prohibits “any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.”
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg wrote that he had “struggled with the tension” between free speech and banning such posts, but that “this is the right balance.”
Two years ago, Mr Zuckerberg said that such posts should not automatically be taken down for “getting it wrong.”
“I’m Jewish and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” he told Recode at the time.
Sad news came from Kaunas October 2: Righteous Gentile Aldona Radzevičienė-Norvaišaitytė has passed away. Three years ago the Kaunas Jewish Community celebrated her 90th birthday where she even danced the waltz.
She and her family lived in Vilkaviškis where they rescued the Jews Alper Kirkilovski, Haim Chernevski and the sisters Shenka and Tsipka Verber who had escaped the Vilkaviškis ghetto just before it was liquidated and all of whom survived the war. In 1993 then-president Algirdas Brazauskas awarded Aldona the Life-Saver’s Cross and Yad Vashem recognized her as a Righteous Gentile on Junly 16, 2001.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community mourns the loss of Aldona Radzevičienė-Norvaišaitytė together with her family and many friends. Her memory will always remain vivid in our hearts.
As the cultural landscape shifts, new challenges arise, which the St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra of the Vilnius city municipality faces courageously.
At 7:00 P.M. on October 8 the orchestra will hold a concert at St. Kotryna’s Church in Vilnius dedicated to Japanese diplomat and Righteous Gentile Chiune Sugihara to mark the 80th anniversary of his activity in Kaunas and the 120th anniversary of his birth. This is the first time orchestra and its soloists will perform from different locations in countries around the world, connected by internet.
Full article in Lithuanian here.
Tickets available here.
Kaunas residents reported October 5 a monument marking the Jewish mass murder and grave site next to the buildings at Energetikų street no. 19 was vandalized.
October 7, 2020
NEW YORK–The World Jewish Congress (WJC) applauds a Greek court’s decision today to convict the leadership of the country’s Golden Dawn national political party for heading up a criminal organization. The court also convicted a party member of murder and 15 others of conspiracy in the case.
At its peak in 2015 Golden Dawn received as much as 7 percent of the national parliamentary vote and still holds seats in the European Parliament. Other than those acts at the center of the court’s deliberations, the group is notorious for its history of antisemitic hate speech and desecration of Jewish sites across the country.
The WJC released the following statement in response to the decision:
The Ethics and Procedures Commission of the Lithuanian parliament has adopted a resolution censuring MP Audrys Šimas concerning what appeared to be a sieg heil Nazi salute he made during a vote in the Lithuanian parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee last spring.
ETHICS AND PROCEDURES COMMISSION OF THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
ON THE BEHAVIOR OF MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AUDRYS ŠIMAS
September 30, 2020
The Ethics and Procedures Commission of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter Commission)–Antanas Matulas, Aušrinė Norkienė, Petras Čimbaras, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Virgilijus Poderys, Mazys Starkevičius, Dovilė Šakalienė, Ona Valiukevičiutė–having received a request from Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky on May 29, 2020, to assess the behavior of member of parliament Audrys Šimas at the meeting of the parliamentary National Security and Defense Committee on May 20, 2020, and based on article 78, part 1, point 3 of the Parliamentary Statute of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter Statute), presents this finding.