The Polifonija music auditorium hosted a concert December 3 held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the restoration of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community.
Most of our current members responded 30 years ago to an invitation published in the newspaper Šiaulių naujienos to attend a meeting of the Sąjūdis initiative group [Lithuanian independence movement] at the Planning Institute. About 100 Jewish residents of Šiauliai attended and the Šiauliai Jewish community was reconstituted, including the Jews of the region and formally called the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, the successor organization to the formerly large Šiauliai City Jewish Community which ceased functioning in 1941.
Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community chairman Naumas Gleizeris began the evening by welcoming and greeting the audience on Hanukkah and the 30th birthday of the organization. He thanked all guests for spending the evening with Community members.
Representatives of the Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian ethnic communities attended and said beautiful speeches as well as greeting the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community with ethnic song and dance.
Šiauliai city deputy mayor J. Sartauskas, Lithuanian Jewish Community board member Daumantas Todesas, Agapao Rehabilitation Center director V. Karpovas and Gegužių pre-gymnasium principal S. Baranauskienė attended as well. Šiauliai State Drama Theater actors A. Venckus and S. Jakubauskas also attended and spoke, saying they felt as if they were members of the Community after performing in the plays Tevye the Dairyman and Dybbuk.
Former board member of the Šiauliai chapter of the Lithuanian Perestroika Sąjūdis K. Alminas greeted the Community at the concert. He was the initiator of the restoration of the Šiauliai Jewish Community. He recalled how he spoke to Jewish members of the Lithuanian independence movement V. Cinevojus and A. Dubas about his idea of restoring the organization. They agreed and made it happen.
V. Karinauskienė of the Aušra Museum in Šiauliai spoke about Jewish contributions to Šiauliai’s industry, culture, health-care and other fields. She said the Šiauliai City Jewish Community and its people and their work were known throughout Lithuania and the world. It was a highly respected community.
Actress J. Budriūnaitė-Kamrazer and teacher and musician Vadimas Kamrazeris spoke about the fate of the Šiauliai Jewish community in Soviet-occupied Lithuania. Jewish institutions, athletics organizations, volunteer clubs, synagogues and schools were closed. During World War II the activity of the Šiauliai Jewish community stopped as Jews were isolated in the ghetto, murdered and transported to concentration camps. The community was only officially restored as an organization in December of 1988. The event moderators surveyed what the Community has accomplished over the past 30 years and concluded much had been done. Other ethnic communities have learned from the Šiauliai Jewish Community.
Vadimas and Sofija Kamrazeris performed songs by Jewish composers and poets and the actress Jūratė Budriūnaitė-Kamrazer recited poems about love, the family, friendship and beauty.