Year of Vilna Gaon and Litvak History Becomes City-Wide Celebration in Kaunas

Year of Vilna Gaon and Litvak History Becomes City-Wide Celebration in Kaunas

The year 2020 has provided the Kaunas Jewish Community with new friends and partners. The Lithuanian parliament passed a resolution last year naming 2020 the Year of the Vilna Gaon and the Year of Litvak History. Until now this has largely been a celebration on paper, but the city of Kaunas turned it into a real celebration with projects and events.

One such was called the Kaunas Musical Guide to Jewish History by the Kauno Santaika group. Most people in the large group of Kaunas residents who took an interest were probably participating in these kinds of unconventional tours for the first time, accompanied by a live orchestra throughout their excursion. The first tour route was accompanied by a guest from Vilnius, the Trimitas national woodwind orchestra. The second was accompanied by Ąžuolynas from Kaunas. The highly knowledgeable Dr. Marija Oniščik told the story of the many former Jewish buildings and sites visited. The tenor Edgaras Davidovičius joined the second tour at the renovated fountain on Freedom Alley in Kaunas and performed the legendary songs of the crooner Daniel Dolski.

Others included the wonderful young team Kaunas Piano Fest who held a competition of works by Litvak composers withing the frame of the festival, and the final concert of the festival, with a very limited audience because of indoor restrictions on gatherings, dedicated not just to the celebratory year of 2020 declared by the Lithuanian parliament, but also to the anniversary of the liquidation of the Kovna [Kaunas] ghetto.

Robertas Lozinskis and Anna Szałucka performed this concert live, while Nathan Cheung performed as if live from a recording. It was very pleasing the organizers invited members of the Kaunas Jewish Community to this concert. Those interested can listen to the performances on the youtube channel of the Kaunas Piano Fest group.

It is our sincere hope these new friends and partners will continue their cooperation with the Kaunas Jewish Community next year as well.

More photos below.

The Goodwill Foundation was responsible for partially financing this event.

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