Enchanting Pflaumen-Tzimmes

Enchanting Pflaumen-Tzimmes

Bagel Shop Café cooks have been sharing some of the secrets of Litvak cooking this summer with the managers of a small restaurant in Merkinė, Lithuania, called Šilo kopa. They’ve been making bagels, herring and pflaumen-tzimmes together.

Pflaumen-tzimmes is a stew made of plums and beef often made for the Sabbath table and Rosh Hashanah.

Bagel Shop Café cook Riva remembers this dish well and still makes it according to a simple recipe: about 1.5 kilograms of beef (from the forequarter), bone, about 15 to 20 plums, about 1.5 kg of potatoes and 1 onion, which is later removed. Laurel leaves aren’t required, only salt. The flavor is enhanced by several tablespoons of caramelized sugar added at the end.

The beef is boiled with the onion for about 2 hours, the onion is removed, the plums are added for about an hour and later the potatoes. When everything has been boiled sufficiently, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of liquefied caramelized sugar.

Augustinas Savickas Memorial Plaque

The Augustinas Savickas Picture Gallery is pleased to invite you to a ceremony to unveil a plaque commemorating the late artist Augustinas Savickas. The ceremony will take place at the home where he lived and worked from 2008 to 2012, at Vytauto street no. 19 in Trakai, near Vilnius, at 12 noon on Tuesday, June 25. Participants include Lithuanian culture minister Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, Trakai regional administrator Edita Rudelienė, actor Juozas Budraitis, sculptor Zigmas Buterlevičius, art historian Saulius Pilinkus and the son of the winner of the national prize for literature and art, Raimondas Savickas. At 12:30 P.M. the exhibit “I Love Trakai” of works from the plein air outdoor art workshop of the Savickas Art School will open at the Trakai regional administration.

Project supporters:

Savickas Picture Gallery, Basanavičiaus street no. 11/Teatro street no. 1, Vilnius

Raimondas Savickas: +370 699 63522, Birutė Savickienė: +370 685 62637



International Project Connects New York and Vilnius YIVO Archives

International Project Connects New York and Vilnius YIVO Archives

Lithuanian culture minister Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas has met with YIVO director Jonathan Brent and YIVO head of archives Dr. Stefanie Halpern. In the meeting they discussed the implementation of YIVO’s Vilna project, a seven-year-long international effort to preserve, digitize and connect the pre-war YIVO archives in New York and Vilnius. The project aims at recreating the Strashun Library, one of the largest Jewish collections in Europe before the Holocaust.

The Lithuanian side expressed the hope that next year, when the Baltic country marks the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History, YIVO would loan the pinkas of the Vilna Gaon shul, a book of statistics kept by the Jewish community which is considered one of the most important documents testifying to the life and history of the Vilnius Jewish community.

Full story in Lithuanian on the Lithuanian Culture Ministry webpage here.

Help Identify This Woman

Stasė Jusaitė, a museum expert at the Ninth Fort Museum in Kaunas, is asking the public for help identifying the woman on the left in the photograph below. The woman on the right is Ona Fridmanienė, the wife of Vulf Fridman, who lived on Italijos (now Mickevičiaus) street in Kaunas before World War II. After her husband died she remarried, to a man named Gustas. Returning from some hiding place–it’s not clear where–she found a Jewish baby boy in a basket and brought him home. When the boy was about three years old, his mother and father came from Vilnius and took him home. When they boy was between 7 and 9, they came to visit Ona again. Ona’s great-granddaughter is searching for the woman and her son.

Amir Maimon: Lithuania Was a Journey I’ll Never Forget

Amir Maimon: Lithuania Was a Journey I’ll Never Forget

Photo: Amiras Maimonas © 2019 DELFI/Domantas Pipas


by Amir Maimon, Israeli ambassador to Lithuania, June 17, 2019 [translated to English from the Lithuanian translation]

It’s hard to believe four and a half years have passed and my journey to Lithuania is coming to an end. When I was posted as the first resident ambassador to Lithuania, I didn’t know much about the country, about its people, culture, landscape and history. As an average, self-confident person, I though I already knew everything, I was certain three months of preparation were completely sufficient to understand what Lithuania was, when I was going and what I would be doing.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Exhibit on Slobodka

Exhibit on Slobodka

The Kaunas Regional State Archive invited the public to come celebrate International Archives Day on June 11, although technically June 9 is the date set as an annual day by the International Council of Archives.

On June 11 the regional state archive showed an exhibit called “The History of the Suburbs of Kaunas: Vilijampolë from Manor Estate to City.” Vilijampolë is the Lithuanian name of the former Jewish neighborhood of Slobodka which became the Kaunas ghetto during the Holocaust.

Archive director Gintaras Druèkus welcomed visitors and said the exhibit was the first in a new series of exhibits featuring the suburbs and neighborhoods of Kaunas. He began a discussion of Slobodka with Kaunas Regional State Archive senior specialist and exhibit curator Nijolë Ambraškienë, department director Vitalija Girèytë, Kaunas Regional Public Library local history expert Dr. Mindaugas Balkus, social activist Dr. Raimundas Kaminskas, Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas, Jewish representative Michailas Duškesas and others, who informed the audience of different aspects of the history of the suburb.

Holocaust Memorial Unveiled in Biržai

Holocaust Memorial Unveiled in Biržai

A new Holocaust memorial was unveiled in the Biržai region on June 16. The 30-meter-long monument commemorates 522 known victims. About 2,400 people, 900 of them children, were shot in the Pakamponys (aka Astravas) forest in 1941, but not all names are known. Jews were an integral part of the culture and history of the northern Lithuanian town of Biržai.

Trees were planted along Žemaitės street to honor those who risked their lives to save Jews, the Biržai Jewish Culture and History Association reported.

A procession walked the same route Jews were forced to march to their deaths in 1941, from the site of the ghetto on Žemaitės street to the mass murder site in Pakamponys forest, where the new monument was revealed. This is only the sixth site in Lithuania where Holocaust victims are commemorated with inscriptions of names.

Joseph Rabie from France designed the monument. His great-grandparents came from Biržai and some of his relatives were murdered at Pakamponys. Abel and Glenda Levitt from Israel initiated the commemoration project. Philanthropist Ben Rabinowitz from Cape Town who also has roots in Biržai was a strong contributor to the project.

Lithuania Marks Day of Mourning and Hope June 14

Lithuania Marks Day of Mourning and Hope June 14

Mass deportations to Stalin’s camps began on this day in 1941.

About 17,500 people were deported from Lithuania between June 14 and 18, 1941, (the fates of 16,246 have been determined so far), a number derived from the 4,663 arrested and 12, 832 people officially deported. The deportations were a huge loss and tragedy for Lithuania. Not all those deported were ethnic Lithuanians: about 3,000 Jews, according to various sources, were also deported and about 375 Jews died at the camps and in exile.

Jews deported to Siberia resisted the brutality and terror of the oppressive Soviet organs with a deep spirituality and faith. In 1941 about 1.3 percent of the total Lithuanian Jewish population were deported, and as a percentage constitute the largest group by ethnicity deported from Lithuania.

Santariškės Children’s Hospital doctor Rozalija Černakova tells the story of what happened to her grandfather and family. Her grandparents were deported with their families. Rozalija’s parents were still children when they were deported: her mother 11 and her mother’s brother 8. They were sent to the Altai region. That’s where Rozalija was born.

Happy Birthday to Konstantinas Chružkovas

Happy Birthday to Konstantinas Chružkovas

The Lithuanian Jewish Community sends birthday greetings to Panevėžys Jewish Community member Konstantinas Chružkovas on his milestone birthday. A long-time and active member, Konstantinas is a talented folk artist and blacksmith producing amazing objects. His work is on display in the headquarters of the Panevėžys Jewish Community and he also manufactured the menorah at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius. One menorah he made was presented to Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon as a gift. Community chairman Gennady Kofman also sends his warm wishes, wishing Konstantinas even greater creativity, energy, resolution, good emotions, a long life and the love of family, wishes echoed by the LJC as a whole Happy birthday, Konstantinas.

Kiryat Ono Conservatory Big Band Concert in Vilnius

The Balys Dvarionas Music School in Vilnius, the Kiryat Ono Conservatory from Israel, the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Israeli embassy to Lithuania invite you to attend a concert by the big band students’ group of the Kiryat Ono Conservatory at the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon Museum in Vilnius at 5:00 P.M. on July 17.

Lithuanian Supreme Court to Hear Noreika Appeal

Grant Gochin, an LA-resident Litvak as well as a Lithuanian citizen and a member of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, has reported the Lithuanian Supreme Court will hear his appeal of a lower court’s dismissal of his case against the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania regarding the latter’s finding WWII-era Lithuanian captain Jonas Noreika was not culpable in Holocaust crimes. As reported earlier, Gochin has been waging a battle for several years now to have the finding reversed and a commemorative plaque to Noreika removed from its location in central Vilnius. Following the earlier court’s finding Gochin didn’t have “standing,” the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania issued a non-attributed document which the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) said fell within its definition of anti-Semitism.

IHRA response here.

Gochin’s appeal here.

Commemorative Plaque to Mark Site of Former YIVO HQ in Vilnius

Commemorative Plaque to Mark Site of Former YIVO HQ in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and the Lithuanian Jewish Community invite the public to attend an unveiling ceremony of a plaque to commemorate the site of the former headquarters of YIVO in Vilnius at 3:00 P.M. on June 20 at the building now located at Vivulskio street no. 18 in Vilnius. YIVO, the most significant center for the study of Jewish culture, history and languages in Eastern Europe, was located near this site from 1925 to 1941. Its founder moved its activities to New York which became world headquarters following the German invasion in 1941.

Participants at the ceremony are to include YIVO director Jonathan Brent and YIVO board of directors deputy chairwoman Irene Pletka.

Vilna Gaon Texts Placed on Lithuanian Memory of the World Registry

Vilna Gaon Texts Placed on Lithuanian Memory of the World Registry

Lithuania’s Memory of the World registry now contains the manuscripts of the Vilna Gaon and a manuscript fragment by Simonas Daukantas, the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library reported.

The 18th century manuscripts of Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, the Vilna Gaon, are a collection of works published in different cities and countries of Europe between 1799 and 1940. They include several very rare publications and almost all of them exist as a single copy in Lithuania.

The library said the Vilna Gaon never published any of his texts, but his teaching was scrupulously written down and compiled by his students, sons and sons-in-law and were edited and published after his death.