Old Užupis Jewish Cemetery Renovation Proposals

The Vilnius municipality is preparing proposals for renovating the old Užupis Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. The municipality’s planning agency Vilnius Plan has hired architect Victoria Sideraitė-Alon for this purpose and she has performed an examination of the territory and has provided proposals on how best to showcase fragments of headstones desecrated by the Soviets.

Sideraitė-Alon’s creative group (Samuel Bak is the author of the main symbol, A. Šimanauskas is the creator/designer, A. Perelmuter is the Israeli architect and consultant) has proposed a project called Arch, which was unanimously approved by an international advisory group on heritage issues established at the Lithuanian Jewish Community and by artists and intellectuals including P. Morkus, M. Ivaškevičius, S. Beržinis, S. Valius and by the Jewish Religious Community and the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.

The Arch project proposal has not received the approval of the Vilnius Plan agency, which instead proposed a different project to commemorate the road blazed through the cemetery during the Soviet era, actually more of a ditch, called Kirkuto alley, but without any monument carrying a deeper semantic or emotional content. Instead, the alternate proposal is for arranging the headstones and fragments, more or less appearing now as stairs, in an artificial layer of soil above the parking lot where they are now housed to create the effect of a small “Jewish” graveyard there.

Public Notice

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has learned from media reports Kalev (Calev) Krelin, who was born and lived in Moscow, is carrying on activities in Lithuania presenting himself as Chief Rabbi of Lithuania, or at least he is being presented as such.

We would like to inform the public the office of chief rabbi was abolished several years ago as the hiring of new rabbis was taking place, and Kalev Krelin was never appointed to that office. At the current time there are no contractual ties between this person and the LJC or the Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community, and we give notice Kalev Krelin has no legal basis to act in the name of the LJC. Likewise, the LJC is not responsible in any way for agreements made by this person nor for the legal consequences arising from such agreements.

Litvak Studios Exhibit

The Savickas Art School is opening another exhibit of works at 6:00 P.M. on April 27 at the Savickas Picture Gallery located at Basanavičiaus street no. 11/1. The latest exhibit is one in a series of exhibits called Stories, whose patron is MEP Petras Auštrevičius. This particular exhibit is called Litvak Studios and features some of the best work by students studying under Savickas at the LJC. This exhibit will run till May 22. The Savickas Art School has operated at the Lithuanian Jewish Community since 2015.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Statement on Proposed Amendment to Consumer Rights Law

The Lithuanian Jewish Community would like to bring the reader’s attention to amendments to the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights currently being considered by the Lithuanian parliament which would ban retail sales of goods which “distort the historical facts of Lithuania or belittle Lithuania’s history, independence, territorial integrity or constitutional order.”

The LJC finds this expanded language for amending the consumer rights protection law raises real concerns about the possible suppression of the ability of members of society to make use of their basic right to self expression, and also raises questions about the likelihood of suppression of future attempts to restore historical justice. These amendments could exert a disproportionately large and negative influence on possible discussions regarding the role of Lithuanians in carrying out the Holocaust and would further lead towards a single “acceptable” judgment of the events of Lithuanian history, formulated at the state level, which would not serve the purpose of really learning and teaching history, but would instead become a censored interpretation.

The LJC believes the adoption of these amendments would give rise to conflict in society. The LJC calls for a consideration of the real need for these amendments and their objectivity, and calls upon legislators to realize anti-Semitism is not on the decline in Europe at the current time. On the contrary, the example of neighboring state which have adopted laws on “the appropriate” interpretation of history recall the era of institutionalized anti-Semitism. Many expressions of hate are encountered in Lithuania as well, and the LJC believes the adoption of these amendments poses the danger of increasing anti-Semitism in Lithuania.

The LJC points to a 2013 decision adopted by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania in the case “On the Adherence of the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Education to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania,” which stated that no specific position or ideology can be declared mandatory and forced on the individual, and that the state must remain neutral regarding beliefs and does not have the right to set some sort of mandatory belief system.

Openness and freedom of speech and expression must remain strong and unifying values in Lithuania. In our country insuring human rights and the battle against hate crimes must be our active concern, just as actively as the calls for fighting for the protection of consumer rights by adopting these amendments.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Statement on Nazi Flags in Vilnius

Just several days after the 75th anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Uprising and Holocaust Day, the Lithuanian Jewish Community was saddened by reports of the raising of Nazi flags around Vilnius on April 20, Hitler’s birthday. The LJC notes with great annoyance these flags marking Hitler’s birthday have appeared many times before in previous years.

We believe this is the work of an isolated group of anti-Semites intent on creating a provocation rather than the attitude of the majority of the public on the Holocaust. We thank the active citizens who reported the Nazi flags so quickly and law enforcement who acted immediately to remove the flags.

We hope the perpetrators who probably acted in concert will be discovered and the appropriate measures called for by the laws of the Republic of Lithuania will be applied.

Lithuanian PM: Let’s Protect Our Common Lithuanian and Israeli Cultural Legacy

Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis Thursday visited the Vilnius Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymansium to attend a celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday.

THe Lithuanian prime minister greeted principal Mišą Jakobas, Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon and other honored guests at the event on the occasion of Israeli independence day.

The Lithuanian PM thanked the Lithuanian Jewish Community for consistently defending the country and supporting its independence, and for making significant contributions to the development of Lithuania currently.

“Lithuania really appreciates our partnership with Israel. Youth exchange programs are growing, our economic mercantile cooperation has been stimulated, and we place great hopes on efforts by the international community to insure peace and security. We are hoping Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu will visit Lithuania this year. By June during our visit to Israel we are planning a discussion by both Governments on relations,” the Lithuanian prime minister said about expanding ties and pragmatic cooperation between Lithuania and Israel.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Commemorating Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Lauder Appeals to Poles and Jews to Remember “Common Bonds” and “Truths”

Press Release
April 19, 2018

World Jewish Congress delegation travels to Poland to commemorate 75th anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

In address at official state ceremony, WJC president Ronald S. Lauder appeals to Poles and Jews to remember “common bonds” and “the truth”

WARSAW–World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder spoke Thursday at Poland’s official state ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, following an address by Polish president Andrzej Duda. In his address, Lauder appealed to both Poles and Jews to remember “our shared history, our friendship, our common bonds, and the truth,” and to “stand together now to make sure that our children and our grandchildren never know the true horrors that took place right her, 75 years ago.”

In his address, Polish president Duda described the events of April 1943 as an “uprising of the people who decided to keep their dignity… Did they think they would become heroes…no for sure they were not thinking about that… But today all of us are bowing our heads very low to their courage determination bravery… They perished for dignity, they perished for freedom but they perished for Poland because they were Polish citizens… Poles and Jews deeply care about having one shared historical truth.”

Court Declines New Hearing on Lithuanian Jewish Community Regulations Case

The Lithuanian Jewish Community reminds readers the Vilnius District Court decision of November 22, 2017, found LJC regulation 7.1 on proportional regional representation at LJC elections null and void.

The Vilnius, Klaipėda, Ukmergė and Šiauliai Jewish Communities sought to renew hearings in this case, but because they sought to revisit the legal question rather than present any new facts, the court issued a decision it would not reopen the case. This decision was issued and came into effect April 18, 2018.

Section 4 of article 8 of the Lithuanian law on associations provides each member of an association without regard to the number of people making up a corporate entity has exacltly one vote at a general meeting of members (election conferences), and this insures the equality of all members and equality in decision making.

Having found a contradiction between the law and the regulations, the LJC board of directors sought to insure the legitimacy and transparency of upcoming elections and by April 19, 2017, voted in the majority to allow one LJC member one vote at the then-upcoming LJC election conference.

The LJC will continue to take all measures necessary to insure the transparency of its activities and adherence to the requirements of the laws of the Republic of Lithuania.

Notice Concerning Mini-Maccabiah Games

The Makabi Lithuanian Athletics Club is an associate member of the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Following the statement by four regional Jewish communities (Klaipėda, Vilnius, Šiauliai and Ukmergė) expressing lack of confidence in the leadership of the LJC, which may be understood additionally as a lack of confidence in the leaders of the athletics club, we are compelled to state that the position of the aforementioned four LJC members does not reflect the opinion of the majority of LJC association members, of which there are 28.

In light of the situation which has arisen, it would not be appropriate to hold the Mini-Maccabiah Games in Klaipėda, because this could give the wrong impression to Lithuanian Jews and could be misinterpreted as some sort of support of the position adopted by the Klaipėda Jewish Community.

We will announce a new date and venue for the Mini-Maccabiah Games in the near future.

Semionas Finkelšteinas, president
Makabi Lithuanian Athletics Club

Healthy Living according to the Torah

Natalja Cheifec presents a new lecture in Lithuanian on the Torah’s attitude towards medicine and human health.

You will hear about:

–Maimonides’s 33 suggestions for remaining healthy into old age;
–the connection between physical and spiritual health;
–does the Jewish worldview have a place for vegetarianism?

and much, much more about how to avoid illness and preserve common sense.

The lecture is to take place at 6:00 P.M. on April 18 on the second floor of the LJC. Admission is free but registration is requested via internet at

Piano Concert by Dmitri Levkovich

Time: 7:00 P.M., April 18
Place: Vaidila Theater, Jakšto street no. 9, Vilnius
Ticket price: 13 to 39 euros

Frédéric Chopin · 12 Études Op. 25
Frédéric Chopin · 12 Études Op. 10


Ukrainian-Canadian pianist Dmitri Levkovich (b. 1979) has been praised for “artistic sophistication far above the ordinary” by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and “understanding of the music far beyond most young pianists” by the American Record Guide. As a composer, he is known for “heartfelt melodies and big emotional surges,” according to the Broad Street Review.

Concert Series Continues

The Returns concert series continues today with a performance by Atis Hiacetonas Bankas (Lithuania. Canada) on violin and Victoria Korchinskaya-Kogan (Canada) on piano at the Lithuanian Jewish Community at 6:00 P.M. today, Tuesday, April 17. Admission is free. For more information call 8655 25898 or (85) 2613171.

Užupis Jewish Cemetery Commemorative Monument Proposal Approved by LJC Advisory Group

The heritage issues advisory group of the Lithuanian Jewish Community has learned of plans for renovating the Užupis Jewish cemetery tendered by the Vilnius municipality and a composition called Arch made of desecrated headstone fragments used as stairs during the Soviet era.

The international creative team behind the Arch are architect Viktorija Sideraitė Alon, creator/designer Albinas Šimanauskas and Israeli architect consultant Anna Perelmuter. The composition uses a symbol created by the Litvak American painter Samuel Bak.

The heritage issues advisory group of the Lithuanian Jewish Community helps solve outstanding Lithuanian Jewish heritage issues professionally and effectively. The group includes Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, POLIN Polish Jewish museum advisor to the director and senior curator of exhibits; Assumpció Hosta, general secretary of the AEPJ; writer Sergejus Kanovičius, founder of Maceva and the Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund; professor James E. Young of University of Massachusetts, Near Eastern Studies, English, Judaism; Samuel Kassow, doctor of philosophy, POLIN senior researcher specializing in 19th century history and the history between the world wars; Lyudmila Sholokhova, PhD, YIVO director of archives and library; and Sergey Kravtsov, senior researcher, Jewish Art Center, Hebrew University.

Experts unanimously supported the artists’ idea for commemorating the Jewish cemetery and offered a number of useful suggestions and observations which will be taken into consideration.

This week members of the advisory group plan to discuss the project proposals with the mayor and city administration specialists.

Later the project ideas and visualizations will be presented to the public.

Israel Celebrates 70th Birthday

The Lithuanian Jewish Community will celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday with a concert on Israeli Independence Day, Iyar 5, which is April 19 this year. The day marks Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, 70 years ago.

You are invited to a performance by the students from the Saulėtekis school in Vilnius at the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

The birthday bash will be held on the third floor of the LJC at Pylimo street no. 4 at 2:00 P.M. on Thursday, April 19. Admission is free.

Documentary Film on Righteous Gentile

As part of commemorating Holocaust Day, the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum invites the public to attend a screening of a documentary film about Irena Sendlerowa, a Righteous Gentile. The Polish Institute in Vilnius and the embassy of the Republic of Poland are helping organize the event to be held at 5:30 P.M. Wednesday, April 11, at the Tolerance Center, Naugarduko street no. 10/2, Vilnius. The film is in Polish with Lithuanian subtitles.

Come Watch Meyn Vilne Film

You’re invited to a screening of the first part, “People and Stones,” of the documentary film “Meyn Vilne” at 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, April 10, at the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius.