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.

Presentation of Uri Levitan’s Book “From Hand to Hand” at LJC

Presentation of Uri Levitan’s Book “From Hand to Hand” at LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community kindly invites you to attend a presentation of the book “From Hand to Hand” by the head of the Sociology and Anthropology Faculty and head of the Kibbutz Institute of Haifa University professor Uriel Leviatan and a meeting with the author at 6:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 21, at the LJC in Vilnius.

Professor Leviatan was born in Kaunas. His grandfather Isaac Leviatan was a renowned gynecologist in prewar Lithuania. The birthing clinic he created on Miško street in Kaunas in 1926 is still operating. Isaac Leviatan was a talented doctor and an active figure in Kaunas public life. He became chairman of the Zionist party Zionim Klaleem in 1935 and was the long-time representative of that party at Zionist congresses held in Europe.

Of the family of Isaac Leviatan renowned in Kaunas and throughout Lithuania, only Uriel survived through a kind of miracle. His parents sensed the coming liquidation of the ghetto in 1943 and made sure three-year-old Uriel was smuggled out of the ghetto…

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.

Bagel Shop Café Turns 3

Bagel Shop Café Turns 3

Three years ago Jewish bagels reappeared in Vilnius. For three years the Bagel Shop Café has been providing a Litvak bagel which customers enjoy with lox, cheese and other spreads. Thank you to all our customers who have helped bring back culture back on our tables and into our hearts.

Lithuanian High School Students Win Holocaust Contest

Anastasija Narbutaitė and Olga Podvorskytė won a contest put on by the Russian Academic and Educational Holocaust Center called “Memory of the Holocaust: The Road to Tolerance” and Narbutaitė received the award presented them from Russian journalist Alla Gerber at a ceremony the Russian Jewish Congress held in Moscow January 28. The two Lithuanian high school students at the Santara Gymnasium in Vilnius surveyed the Lithuanian press from 2016 to 2018 for articles and accompanying internet comments about the Holocaust. Tatjana Bruskina, who teaches high school seniors English at the gymnasium, accompanied Narbutaitė and both took part in a We Remember event at the Lithuanian embassy in Moscow.

The Catholic Priest Who Discovered He Was Jewish

The Catholic Priest Who Discovered He Was Jewish

by Kostas Kajėnas

Since his birth Romualdas Jakubas Veksleris-Vaškinelis was raised Catholic and grew up to become a Catholic priest. He discovered later he was Jewish and travelled to Israel where he met his ultra-Orthodox relatives for the first time. The return to his roots was difficult. On the one hand there was the joy of discovering them, on the other: a confrontation on the rights of Jews to move to Israel.

The unusual life of this person with two names and two surnames began in World War II. He was born in Švenčionys, Lithuania, and became the only person in his family to survive the Holocaust. The infant survived because he was rescued by a Polish couple, Piotr and Emilia Waszkinel, who accepted him into their household when his parents Jakub and Batya Veksler asked them to during the destruction of the Švenčionys ghetto. The Polish couple baptized him and raised him as a Catholic.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Lithuanian Conference on Stories of the Children of the Holocaust

Lithuanian Conference on Stories of the Children of the Holocaust

The pre-war and Holocaust experiences of Jewish children from Lithuania were the topic of a conference held January 25 in Ariogala, Lithuania, to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A large group of students and teachers from over 25 Lithuanian schools with their own Tolerance Education Centers told stories of Jewish children and adolescents, making use of the recently translated ghetto diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski, the memoirs of Trudi Berger and others, a book about children rescued from the Kaunas ghetto, the work of Grigory Kanovitch and others. Ronaldas Račinskas, executive director of the International Commission for Assessing the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania, which organized the conference, said it was important to tell the stories from before the war but especially during. Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas said the performances by the young people gave him hope their generation wouldn’t be afflict by ethnic and religious stereotypes

Photo: Gustė Adamavičiūtė

Synagogues: The Difficult Road to Revival

Synagogues: The Difficult Road to Revival

by Kazys Kazakevičius

Of the almost one-and-a-half thousand synagogues in Lithuania before World War II, only about 80 have survived to the present. Only two are operational and all other buildings are being used for other purposes or stand empty. It takes a lot of money to revive a synagogue for new life. The Jewish communities don’t have it, and neither do the municipalities which often become the owners of synagogues where there are no Jewish communities. Some EU support helps, at least.

An opportunity for fully restoring a former synagogue in Alytus, Lithuania, has come up; after the war the synagogue became a salt storehouse and a chicken hatchery. In January the city mayor’s office signed an agreement with a contractor for the further capital renovation of the synagogue built in 1911 which has been undergoing some repairs for three years now. The plan foresees a year-and-a-half’s worth of work for 400,000 euros. Around half of that cost will come from EU funds with the municipality picking up the rest. Specialist Ingrida Leskevičienė of the Alytus mayor’s office’s department of finance and investments reported the building is to house a visual arts center as a branch of the Alytus Regional History Museum. The first floor is to be used as an exhibition hall to host exhibits, conferences, seminars, lectures, book launches and showings of films.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said, however, there are still synagogues whose fates are causing great concern. Renovating or rebuilding them, even if funds were available, wouldn’t make sense if there was no on to use the buildings.

Full story in Lithuanian here.