Choral Synagogue Reopens

Choral Synagogue Reopens

The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius reopened for morning prayers on Monday, May 25, following the quarantine. Special measures in place include mandatory wearing of face masks and gloves, taking the temperature of those attending and disinfectant for hands.

The faithful had to rediscover their seats, now marked, at a safe 2 meters distance from one another.

Agreement was reached with the congregation on how to behave during Torah reading. We agreed to abbreviate the number of prayers temporarily, they will now take place during the day during Torah readings on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. This will be changed according to traditional holidays.

Currently there are 30 safe places for men and 14 for women in the gallery.

A closed bar mitzvah ceremony has taken place now.

Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky and rebbetzin Dina Krinsky and their sons have been working around the clock so normal Jewish life can resume following the quarantine.

Any questions regarding synagogue activities may be directed to the telephone number 8 650 18270 from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. on Mondays and Thursdays.

Simas Levinas, chairman
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community

Happy Birthday to Viktoras Reizinas

Happy Birthday to Viktoras Reizinas

The Lithuanian Jewish Community greets Viktoras Reizinas on his 80th birthday. Happy birthday, Viktoras. We wish you the best of health, much happiness, warmth and love.

Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Yerushalayim shel Zahav

Yerushalayim shel Zahav

If you start to stand up when you hear the song Yerushalayim shel Zahav, or Jerusalem of Gold, to pay your respect to the Israeli national anthem, don’t feel silly. The song was actually in the running for a while. Naomi Shemer’s song released just before the Six Day War became the most popular Hebrew-language song in the world and got serious airplay on American radio.

Happy Jerusalem Day.

Condolences

With deep sadness we report Puna Dvorskis passed away May 22. He was born in 1940. Our deepest condolences to his children on the death of their beloved father.

Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day

The 28th day of the month of Iyar, May 22 this year, is commemorated as the day the state of Israel took the eastern section of the holy city in the Six Day War in 1967. Initially proclaimed an international city by the United Nations, Jerusalem was partitioned between Israeli and Jordanian forces following the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab wars from 1947 to 1949. Israel occupied the entire city in the Six Day War, despite having proclaimed its capital at Jerusalem earlier and setting up government buildings in West Jerusalem.

Because of the original plan by the United Nations for the city sacred to three religions to be administered as an international, shared city, for decades countries around the world have refused to recognize it as the capital of Israel, maintaining diplomatic representations in Tel Aviv instead. The United Nations plan of 1947 called for a corpus separatum along the lines of the Papal States/Vatican City inside Rome, or the former “free cities” before World War II such as Danzig and Trieste. The city’s status is a bone of contention in hopes for peace between Israelis and Palestinians; Palestinians claim the city as their capital.

Happy Birthday to Abramas Saksonovas

Happy Birthday to Abramas Saksonovas

Abramas Saksonovas, a survivor of the Holocaust, is celebrating his 90th birthday. The Lithuanian Jewish Community would like to add our greetings to those of everyone else celebrating Abramas’s important milestone.

Dear Abramas, we wish you great health, much happiness and a happy and fun birthday! Mazl tov! Bis 120!

Lithuanian Web Site: Let’s Learn about Lite, the Great Synagogue and the Vilna Gaon

Lithuanian Web Site: Let’s Learn about Lite, the Great Synagogue and the Vilna Gaon

by Karolina Aleknavičė, 15min.lt

This year, 2020, has been declared the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Lithuanian Jewish History, and it’s a good opportunity to learn about the authentic culture which thrived for whole centuries in our neighborhood.

We spoke with Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum Jewish culture and identity exhibit coordinator Saulė Valiūnaitė, Vilnius University historian Dr. Akvilė Naudžiūnienė and Kėdainiai Multicultural Center director Audronė Pečiulytė about Lite, the Litvaks who lived here, Vilnius as the Jerusalem of the North and the Gaon, Eliyahu, who lived there.

Lithuanian Jewish History an Integral Part of Lithuanian History

Valiūnaitė told 15min.lt Lithuanians’ attitude towards Jewish history has changed over the last 15 years. “It’s inspiring that in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities there are ever more initiatives appearing, and most importantly, a desire to commemorate the history and heritage of the Jews who lived there. Some do this by setting up commemorative markers, others by organizing events or writing books about the Jewish history of their cities and towns,” she said.

Ninth Forth Memorial Sculptor Dies

Ninth Forth Memorial Sculptor Dies

Photo: LRT

Lithuanian Public Radio and Television and BNS reported Wednesday the sculptor Alfonsas Vincentas Ambraziūnas died on May 7 at the age of 86. He was known mainly for the large Soviet-era memorial statue at the Ninth Fort in Kaunas where Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Initially the statue was dedicated to all victims of fascism.

Full article in Lithuanian here.

Daniel Dolskis: Founder of Lithuanian Stage Music Who Entertained Pre-War Kaunas

Daniel Dolskis: Founder of Lithuanian Stage Music Who Entertained Pre-War Kaunas

by Rasa Murauskaitė, Lithuanian national public radio and television, LRT.lt

Lithuanian Public Radio and Television continues stories in the the Stones of Memory series intended to commemorate Litvaks in Lithuania and around the world. The third story concerns Daniel Dolskis (Danielius Dolskis, Dolski), one of the founders of the Lithuanian estrada popular music tradition.

Although he only lived a few years in Kaunas, Lithuania, during the interwar period, Dolskis quickly became a legend of real Lithuanian estrada musical culture.

“Onytė, come dance with me,” Dolskis used to say when inviting Lithuanian girls to dance.

“The Man Who Entertained Kaunas” wrote one Lithuanian paper of Dolskis in the period between the two world wars. Actually the truth is somewhat different about the crooner born to a family of Vilner Jews by the name of Broides, a name connected with the musical nightlife at Kaunas’s famous interwar restaurants and clubs such as Metropol, Konrad’s Café and others.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

In the Spotlight: William Stern

Mr. William Stern was born in Budapest in 1935; after the Nazi occupation of Hungary in March 1944, he and his family were taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They survived the War and emigrated to New York in 1952 where Mr Stern pursued studies first at Yeshiva University and subsequently at Harvard Law School.

It was during his stint at Harvard Law School that Mr Stern discovered the many risks and temptations which face a student when he leaves his home environment and suddenly becomes enmeshed in a totally new and different culture. He was shocked at seeing some of his friends shed their tradition and previous way of life in just a matter of months. Having married a young lady resident in London, Mr Stern moved to England in 1960. Early in his career, he established in London in 1971 a kosher canteen which welcomed students of Imperial College, located opposite his offices at Albert Court. This canteen has been going strong for the past 45 years and is presently catering to 30-35 Imperial College students every day of the academic year.

When he expanded his business to Lithuania, Mr Stern discovered the presence in Kaunas of approximately 100 Israeli medical students. He felt that during the 6-year period which medical studies require, many of these students might lose not only their Israeli but also their Jewish identity. In 2010, he established the Jewish Club which grew and developed over the years into the Jewish Centre Kaunas. Its aim is to provide the Jewish students in Kaunas a home away from home and prevent the loss of Jewish identity which otherwise might occur.

Prosecutor Drops Pre-Trial Investigation of Anti-Semitism Yet Again

Prosecutor Drops Pre-Trial Investigation of Anti-Semitism Yet Again

This time the Vilnius district attorney’s office reported they dropped an investigation into an article containing anti-Semitism and sowing ethnic discord on the internet page of the weekly newspaper Laisvas Laikraštis. The pre-trial investigation was begun at the request of Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky.

“I can’t even count anymore how many times both the Community and I have sent these requests in. Dozens. So far all investigations have been halted because investigators never seem to find any evidence of a crime,” Kukliansky commented.

She said the Community will continue to publicize each and every complaint and each and every rejection, even if the spreaders of hate receive extra publicity for their articles and comments because of it.

WJC President Publishes Op-Ed Piece in Saudi Arabia’s Arab News

WJC President Publishes Op-Ed Piece in Saudi Arabia’s Arab News

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share with you that today WJC president Ronald S. Lauder published a front-page opinion article in the largest English-language daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia. The piece in the Arab News praises recent advancements in Muslim-Jewish relations across the Middle East.

This is the first time that a media outlet in Saudi Arabia has published an opinion article by a Jewish leader, showing an increased willingness in the Arab world to foster ties and enhance dialogue with the Jewish people.

In the commentary “A Quiet Revolution is Changing the Middle East” published during the Muslim holy celebration of Ramadan, president Lauder praises the Saudi monarchy for encouraging Jews and Muslims to get to know one another, and expresses his hope that peace in the Middle East is within reach in the region plagued by decades of violence and unrest.

Read “A Quiet Revolution Is Changing the Middle East” here.

Stay safe,

Maram Stern

Hundredth Anniversary of Jewish Faction in Lithuanian Constituent Parliament

Hundredth Anniversary of Jewish Faction in Lithuanian Constituent Parliament

Photo: One of the first sittings of the new Lithuanian parliament took place at the City Theater. In front is the presidium, to the left, sitting, are Naftalis Fridmanas, Petras Radzevičius, Ladas (Vladas) Natkevičius, first deputy speaker Jonas Staugaitis, Sspeaker Aleksandras Stulginskis, second deputy speaker Justinas Staugaitis. Right, seated: Zigmas Starkus. Kaunas, 1920. Courtesy Vytautas the Great Military Museum.

The Jewish Faction in Lithuania’s Constituent Parliament

The first parliament elected after Lithuanian independence in the early 20th century caused a global sensation.

This year comes 100 years after the first universal democratic elections for a Lithuanian parliament. One feature of what Lithuania calls its Constituent Assembly was the Jewish faction of parliamentarians, something almost impossible to imagine today following the extermination of upwards of 95% of all Lithuanian Jews in the Holocaust.

to be continued