Who Is That Gaon?

Who Is That Gaon?

by Sergejus Kanovičius. Photo by Evgenia Levin/Bernardinai.lt

Soon the Year of the Vilna Gaon will end: the news websites will stop carrying out the internet education plans dedicated to Jewish history and the school curricula will remain as they always were: impoverished, and with the suppression of history. Everything will depend on the teacher’s initiative, again. The statues to the Gaon and Tsemakh Shabad will stare out, with acid poured over them. Plaques will hang commemorating the “desk murderer” in Vilnius and the statue to a murderer of Jews will continue to stand in the center of Ukmergė, and schools will continue to be named in their honor. The center tasked with researching genocide will offer jobs to people who think the “Lithuanian Activist Front would have found it easy to agree with Zionists.” Only suppressing the fact the LAF helped those Zionists travel into the bosom of Abraham.

Virtual internet reality will never coincide with true reality, and the proposition of living in two worlds will continue to be proposed. The official one will soon mourn at Paneriai and on Rūdninkai square because that’s what’s required. Actually, the pandemic in the true sense of the word helped save a pile of money which would have been used for those pompous but failed events. I would ask, couldn’t the money saved be used to change the school curricula so that a student who reads a headline or title “The Vilna Gaon…” doesn’t have to search the internet to find out who he was and why he’s important?

The best surrogate education–sampling Jewish foods–takes place via the stomach, and via internet. In both cases the effect of learning is equal to the time spent by the learner chewing a bagel or reading about some shtetl lost to oblivion, sipping coffee while reading the screen. There’s no need to even raise the question of enduring value or the long-term effect…

Windmills are worthless without Don Quixotes. It is only the Don Quixotes who lend them some sort of meaning, because who would dare ask why they stir the air as they spin in the meaningless blowing of the wind?

Is that enough criticism already? I agree. Thirty years’ worth is enough. It’s simply time to change the school curriculum. Such that internet education and stomach learning might become aids to learning, but not primary sources of information.

But will you explain to the children at the Jonas Noreika primary school in Šukionys who those Jews were, or at the statue to Juozas Krikštaponis talk about how this man named Chackelis Lemchenas worked at the gymnasium in Ukmergė?

Who is that Gaon? Oh, he’s the guy whose statue had acid poured over it twice.

For now, may the wind be strong on your mills and bon apétit at the Jewish food fair somewhere.

Full text in Lithuanian here.