You don’t have to be born in Lithuania to call yourself a Litvak. There were many years in which Lithuania’s borders kept changing, so that many Jews born in any of Lithuania’s neighboring countries or in any of the countries that had ruled or occupied Lithuania, consider themselves to be Litvaks – especially if they can also speak Yiddish.
At meetings in Vilnius this past November, the first question put to the journalist from Jerusalem Post by both Faina Kukliansky, the chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, and Fania Brancovskaja, Vilna’s last Holocaust survivor [sic], was “Do you speak Yiddish?” The interview with Brancovskaja, 96, was entirely in Yiddish, even though she is fluent in a half-dozen languages, including English. Kukliansky is also multilingual and even though the interview with her was conducted in English, every now and again, when she wanted to emphasize a point, she reverted to Yiddish.
Full story here.