Lithuanian Jewish Community Conducting Project to Digitize and Preserve Lithuanian Jewish History

Lithuanian Jewish Community Conducting Project to Digitize and Preserve Lithuanian Jewish History

The open-source RODA (Repository of Authentic Digital Objects*) platform has been chosen to digitize and conserve our European Jewish legacy.

The international J-Ark European Jewish Community Archive project was started in early 2021 and will continue till early 2023, creating and testing a long-term storage platform for digital content. This digital Jewish archive will include selected video, audio, visual, photographic and other materials connected with the history of the Lithuanian Jewish Community since the restoration of Lithuanian independence.

* RODA is a digital repository solution that delivers functionality for all the main units of the OAIS reference model. RODA is capable of ingesting, managing and providing access to the various types of digital objects produced by large corporations or public bodies. RODA is based on open-source technologies and is supported by existing standards such as the Open Archival Information System (OAIS), Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS), Encoded Archival Description (EAD), Dublin Core (DC) and PREMIS (Preservation Metadata).

Project coordinator:

Jewish Heritage Network (JHN), the Netherlands
Project partners:

“Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre (TNN) Poland
Pangeanic (PAN) Spain
Stichting Europeana/Europeana Foundation (EF), the Netherlands

The European Commission is providing partial support for this project.

Sixty-one episodes of the television program Menora are being included in the digital heritage collection.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has selected and presented 61 episodes of the Lithuanian state television program Menora which began airing in 1998. We are sharing here information from several archival recordings which illustrate the history of the Lithuanian Jewish Community since the year 2000.

Portraits of Litvaks

People are our greatest wealth. Unfortunately, they don’t live forever. With that in my, I am pleased the Menora program has filmed many portraits of Litvaks. It is difficult to overestimate their contribution to the Jewish rebirth. They have preserved the best features and identity of their people. These people have worked in various jobs, including as scientists, artists, teachers, financiers and engineers. Our heroes are no longer among the living, but the programs are still here. And they speak to us from the screen.

Lėja Jacovskienė


We dedicated this episode of Menora to Lėja Jacovskienė’s 80th birthday. Lėja, having reached such a venerable age, still works as an accountant at the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Larisa Vyšniauskienė, the director of the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance ensemble, is pleased to work with Lėja Jacovskienė. The birthday girl doesn’t just do the finances for the ensemble, she also has a wonderful command of Yiddish, having preserved her native “mame loshn.” She translates lyrics so ensemble members can understand the content of songs.

Lėja Faingold–that’s her maiden name–began life in Ukmergė. She was the youngest of four daughters. When the war began, the Faingold family was able to flee deep into the Soviet Union. Lėja came back to Lithuania in 1944. As she herself says, she couldn’t imagine life somewhere else. When she met the Litvak attorney Jevsėjus Jacovskis the rest of her life changed.

The three Jacovskis children fulfilled their father’s dream of becoming an artist. Adomas, Aleksandra and Jokūbas are famous artists in Lithuania.

Menora visited an exhibition of works of art by Adomas Jacovskis.

Member of parliament Emanuelis Zingeris said Adomas Jacovskis’s work demonstrated continuity with pre-war Litvak art, while the artist was a master of modern Lithuanian art.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairman Simonas Alperavičius recounted the history of the honored and creative Jacovskis family.

Jevsėjus Jacovskis, the late family patriarch so brightly remembered, was one of the enthusiasts behind the revival of the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Program produced in the year 2000.

Esfira Bramsonaitė, conservator of Judaica archives


The late Esfira Bramsonaitė of fond memory was the first director of the Judaica section a the Martynas Mažvydas Lithuanian National Library.

The Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore held a conference called “The Cultural Life of Vilnius.” Esfira Bramsonaitė gave a presentation at the conference on Sora Reizen, the poet who wrote in Yiddish, from a famous family of literati.

The Judaica legacy from the Jerusalem of Lithuania is very important in the academic world. Esfira was the guide who navigated the labyrinths of Yiddish culture.

She was born and raised in Kaunas next to the synagogue on Elizos Ožeškienės street. When the war started she left home and fled eastwards. Her mother, father and sister were murdered during the Great Aktion.

After the war Fira returned to Lithuania and settled in Vilnius; she couldn’t live in Kaunas any longer. She worked at a legal court, then at the Ministry of Forests where she was preparing for the tranquil life of a retiree when she received an unexpected proposal: to go to the Palace of Books to work with the Judaica heritage conserved there. Esfira said she cried all night and realized that these books were waiting for her.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairman Simonas Alperavičius attended school with Esfira Bramsonaitė before the Holocaust and both later studied together in the Law Faculty at Vilnius University. He assesses Esfira’s contributions to Jewish culture, Jewish bibliography and book conservation as outstanding.

Program produced in 2003.

Famous Lithuanian literature and language expert Chackelis Lemchenas


Famous Lithuanian language and literature expert Chackelis Lemchenas [Hatzkel Lemkhen] was born in Papilė, Lithuania, in 1904. When Menora went to interview him, Chackelis Lemchenas was 95.

He recalled the most important moments in his life. When the Jews were being “evacuated” from the Kovna guberniya in 1915, his entire family was forced to remove to Penza deep inside Russia. In 1921 the Lemkhen family returned to Lithuania and settled in Žagarė. Chackelis matriculated in the Liberal Arts Faculty of the University of Lithuania. The famous Lithuanian linguist often considered the father of the modern standard language, Jonas Jablonskis, soon took notice of Chackelis Lemchenas and invited him to work for him.

Chackelis Lemchenas was imprisoned in the Kaunas ghetto during the Holocaust and lost both his sons to the Kinder Aktion conducted there in 1944. Chackelis Lemchenas was sent to the Dachau concentration camp complex and his wife was sent to the Stutthof concentration camp. They met again in Vilnius after the war. Chackelis Lemchenas became famous as a compiler of a number of dictionaries. For his contributions to Lithuanian culture and learning, Chackelis Lemchenas was presented the Order of Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, fourth degree.


Second scene – the February 16 Lithuanian Independence Day holiday at the Sholem Aleichem Jewish school in Vilnius. School principal Miša Jakobas spoke about the Jewish volunteer soldiers who fought in the battles for Lithuanian independence.


The third segment of the program discussed the event “Parallels in Lithuanian and Litvak Music” held by the Lithuanian Jewish Culture Club directed by professor Markas Petuchauskas. The Lithuanian folklore ensemble Krivulė and the Jewish children’s ensemble Aliya performed. Musicologist Arvydas Karaška and Aliya ensemble director Arkadijus Sorkinas described the event.


The fourth segment details a conference of Israeli art critics at the Lithuanian Open Society Fund building. The sculptor Dovydas Zundelovičius was planning an exhibit of Lithuanian sculptors in Israel which would be dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Republic of Lithuania.


Fifth segment – Composer Anatolijus Šenderovas received the Lithuanian National Prize for Art. Presented by the poet Marcelijus Martinaitis. Composer Anatolijus Šenderovas talked about his work.

Program produced in 1998.