Bagel shop

You Are Invited to the European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

You Are Invited to the European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is continuing the tradition of marking the annual event European Days of Jewish Culture, this time for the fifth year, with a program of events in Vilnius scheduled for Sunday, September 6, 2020.

All parts of the event program are free and open to the public. The number of participants has been limited this year due to health concerns so please register as soon as possible.

For cooking lessons, register by sending an email to kavine@lzb.lt
For the Jerulita tour, register by sending an email to travel@jerulita.lt

To register by internet, click here.

Large Jewish Community Lived in Švenčionys Region Before Holocaust

Large Jewish Community Lived in Švenčionys Region Before Holocaust

The Švenčionys region of Lithuania is a multicultural place where Lithuanians live alongside Poles, Russians, Belarussians, Jews and people of other ethnicities.

The Švenčionys Jewish Community was reconstituted in 2013. It is now headed by the energetic Švenčionys native Moshe Shapiro (aka Moisiejus Šapiro).

There was a large Jewish community living in the Švenčionys region in the period between the two world wars. In fact there were five synagogues operating there.

Jews there set up an herbal pharmaceuticals factory and different workshops in the center of the town of Švenčionys. Jewish effort, initiative and expertise were involved in all fields of production and business.

This Country Would Never Have Become the Jerusalem of Lithuania Had It Not Been a Safe and Tolerant Place

This Country Would Never Have Become the Jerusalem of Lithuania Had It Not Been a Safe and Tolerant Place

Just before quarantine was announced the Bagel Shop received an important visitor. The interview done several months ago remains just as important and perhaps even more so now. We spoke about the importance of ethnic food to Jews living in Lithuania and about a people’s right to have ethnic foods. We await the re-opening of the Bagel Shop Café with bated breath and hope to continue this conversation in front of an audience.

Bagel Shop Interview with Meghan Luckett, Cultural Attaché at the US embassy in Vilnius

Interview by Dovile Rūkaitė, LJC project manager.

Do you like bagels? What’s your favorite kind?

Yes, of course we love bagels. My favorite are everything bagels, we buy them at your bagel shop and in the market and eat them almost every week. We make bagel sandwiches with baked egg, spices and all kinds of stuff. One of our colleagues is a great cook, she makes us homemade bagels. Once we brought her some from Trader Joe’s and she made us excellent everything bagels. My wife is a great cook, she bakes sometimes, but we usually buy them because they are very good.

Thank You for Helping LJC Seniors

Thank You for Helping LJC Seniors

Lithuanian Jewish Community administrative secretary Liuba Šerienė would like to send a big thank-you to Social Department director Michailas Segalas and staff members Ema Jakobienė, Ninel Skudovičiūtė, Rokas Dobrovolskis and Neringa Stankevičienė and colleagues, and to Michailas Tarasovas, Aušra, Snieguolė, Danutė Lena, Žana and Sonia for their great work helping our Social Department clients and senior citizens. Thank you so very much.

We Can’t Give Up Hope Now

We Can’t Give Up Hope Now

Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky. Photo: Blanka Weber

by Blanka Weber

The country’s Jewish community is watching the time of pandemic with alarm

Faina Kukliansky is currently managing her life and that of her members from her home office in Vilnius. “This is a time that demands everything from us,” the 65-year-old chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community says.

This is a time when preparations for Passover would be underway normally. The Bagel Shop next to the Community building on Pylimo street is now only open for a few hours and only accepts cards for payment. Cash is forbidden. There are strict rules here, too. Matzo will be distributed to Community members here and should be delivered in the next few days.

Matzo Will Be Available from March 25 to April 3 at Bagel Shop Café

Matzo Will Be Available from March 25 to April 3 at Bagel Shop Café

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has set up a safe way to get matzo for Passover via the Bagel Shop Café. Payment will be by bank card exclusively. The cost for a 1-kilogram box is 5 euros, and for a 454-gram bag of matzo flour the price is 3 euros. Pick-ups can be made between the hours of 10:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. from March 25 to April 4, presumably excluding the Sabbath. Please call 8 685 06 900 for more information.

Changes in LJC Operations after State of Emergency

Changes in LJC Operations after State of Emergency

Dear Community members,

Following the announcement of a state of emergency in Lithuania, the daily operations of the Lithuanian Jewish Community has changed as well. We must postpone all planned events and restrict admission of visitors, and some employees are now working from home.

We thank you for your understanding and patience. We are always ready to help you and to answer any questions, and we hope you will take into consideration this unusual situation and that we will overcome these difficult challenges together.

Please note:

• ALL Community events have been canceled, both at the Community building and elsewhere;
• we strongly request that visits to the Community building at Pylimo street no. 4 only be made if there is a serious need to do so;
• if you want to meet a specific LJC employee, please agree on the meeting with that person by telephone beforehand;
• for permission for burials, please call secretary Liuba Šerienė at +37068506900.

IMPORTANT: prepare copies beforehand of death certificates and documents showing family ties, and digital documents are preferred.

Continue to follow the LJC web page where we will announce all changes in the operations of the LJC administration and LJC Social Center.

Happy Birthday, Riva!

Happy Birthday, Riva!

Happy birthday to our top Bagel Shop chef Riva Portnaja! Thank you for the delicious treats you make and for preserving the Litvak culinary heritage.

We will always think of you as you are, beloved, friendly, with your sweet and comforting smile, exuding youth from the depths of your soul.

New US Ambassador Visits LJC

New US Ambassador Visits LJC

Robert Gilchrist, a career diplomat appointed by president Trump to serve as the United States’ ambassador to Lithuania and confirmed by the Senate in late December, made an informal visit to the Lithuanian Jewish Community February 19.

During the visit he met chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, received a tour of the Community building from her, chatted with senior citizens and learned about their club and met Holocaust survivors, including Jewish partisan Fania Brancovskaja.

He also visited the Bagel Shop Café and met children engaged in LJC activities during their winter break from school.

Chairwoman Kukliansky also showed the new ambassador an exhibit on display at the Community on the Righteous Gentiles who rescued Jews from the Holocaust in Lithuania.

Appointed by US president Donald Trump in July, Gilchrist was only confirmed by the Senate in late December after heated questioning about his position on Russia. During his confirmation he called Lithuania one of America’s most loyal allies and said becoming the US ambassador to Lithuania was the honor of his life.

Thank You

Thank You

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman wants to thank Bagel Shop Café director Dovilė Rūkaitė and senior cook Riva Portnaja for their wonderful idea to hold a Litvak culinary luncheon with a delegation from the Taube Jewish Heritage Tours with partial support from the Ethnic Minorities Department, and for their tireless enthusiasm in promoting and passing on the Litvak Jewish culinary heritage. Thank you to Taube delegation leader and Ashkenazi cooking expert Jeffrey Yoskowitz and to all the volunteers and guests who made this event so much fun. It was good to sit down together at a shared table and it was very delicious.

Sukkot Celebration with Guests from America and Baked Gefilte Herring

Sukkot Celebration with Guests from America and Baked Gefilte Herring

It’s long been the tradition during SUkkot to set up a booth, invite guests and treat them to various family recipes. While they say there is no traditional Sukkot dish, it does seem to be characteristic to make things which are stuffed and rolled, like the Torah scroll. Stuffed cabbage and filled pancakes are popular.

Ashkenazi cooking expert Jeffrey Yoskowitz visited the Lithuanian Jewish Community on the first day of Sukkot and made select dishes from the Litvak culinary legacy. Guests–loves of Litvak cooking–joined in and for every dish there were multiple stories and recollections from childhood. There was even a dispute on the correct form cut carrots should take.

Jeffrey Yoskowitz is leading a Taube Jewish Heritage Tours tour currently in Lithuania. He and Dovilė from the Bagel Shop Café had a long discussion on which dishes to include in cooking workshops. In the end they arrived at the solution of Litvak exceptionalism: to select the dishes which Polish Jews don’t make and which are unknown to the American Jewish community.

Children’s Safety Questioned after Swastika Appears at LJC

Children’s Safety Questioned after Swastika Appears at LJC

Children’s events, workshops, clubs and so forth are held often at the Lithuanian Jewish Community, as are Hebrew lessons, chess matches and Jewish holiday events attended by children. The safety of children attending events at the LJC is being called into question by the appearance of a swastika just meters from the front door. Its appearance coincided with the Peoples Fair inside, where children were preparing to give a concert. The goal of the Peoples Fair is to bring together the ethnic minority communities who call Lithuania home.

While the children were getting ready for the concert upstairs, down at the Bagel Shop Café a group of 43 elderly religious Jews from Jerusalem were holding prayers and waiting for breakfast when the swastika appeared, even closer to the front door of the kosher food outlet.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliaksy said there should actually be reverse discrimination for the Lithuanian Jewish Community considering how small it is now following the Holocaust.

No other state in Europe fails to provide protection and security for its Jewish community.

European Day of Jewish Culture in Šeduva September 15

European Day of Jewish Culture in Šeduva September 15

A lesson on how to bake traditional challa bread will be held at 3:00 P.M. on September 15 at the Šeduva Crafts and Culture Center located at Vilniaus street no. 1 in Šeduva. Chefs from the Bagel Shop Café will share the secrets of traditional Litvak holiday customs and cuisine.

Focus on Cuisine and History at European Day of Jewish Culture Events

Focus on Cuisine and History at European Day of Jewish Culture Events

VILNIUS, September 1, BNS–Events were held to celebrate European Day of Jewish Culture in Vilnius on the first Sunday in September. Tours of the Lithuanian capital, lectures and authentic Jewish cuisine were offered to the public.

The events program included Jewish music in the Vilnius Old Town–the old Jewish Quarter–and restaurants offering authentic Jewish foods.

“Jewish cuisine is an inalienable part of Jewish culture, Jewish tradition and Jewish heritage. Jewish cuisine is a prerequisite part of any Jewish holiday,” Lithuanian Jewish Community projects director Dovilė Rūkaitė told BNS.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

LJC Celebrates 20th European Day of Jewish Culture in Vilnius Old Town

LJC Celebrates 20th European Day of Jewish Culture in Vilnius Old Town

The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated the 20th European Day of Jewish Culture in the traditional Jewish Quarter of Vilnius September 1 with song, dance and food. The weather was beautiful. Restaurants in the Vilnius Old Town feature Jewish foods with traditional breakfast served at the Bagel Shop Café, restaurants and cafés on Žydų and Stiklių streets and other locations. DJs RafRaf, Akvilina and Marius Šmitas provided dance music with a 10-hour musical program at the Amadeus Bar.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky greeted celebrants and Vidmantas Bezaras, director of the Cultural Heritage Deparment, and Vida Montvydaitė, director of the Department of Ethnic Minorities, also spoke, noting there is no town or village in Lithuania without some sign of a Jewish presence. Vida Montvydaitė said this isn’t just Jewish heritage, it’s Lithuania’s legacy, and protecting it is becoming ever more important.

The writer Kristina Sabaliauskaitė spoke about her childhood memories of the Jews who still lived in central Vilnius then and with whom she made lasting friendships. She says interpersonal relationships are still one of the most important things in life to her.

Sabbath in the Jewish Quarter September 1

Sabbath in the Jewish Quarter September 1

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites you to come celebrate the 20th annual European Day of Jewish Culture, “Sabbath in the Jewish Quarter,” in the Vilnius Old Town on September 1.

World-renowned writer Chaim Grade called the Vilnius Old Town the Jewish Quarter ca. 1930, and wrote: “Long Fridays of Summer. The housewives go to the bakery to shop for Saturday: they buy dry bagels, dark cookies and pastries with poppy seeds, small little cakes with powdered sugar…” (from his Der shtumer minyen, or Silent Minyan).

On Sunday, September 1, restaurants and cafés located in the Vilnius Jewish Quarter will present a menu of Jewish dishes, Jewish music will play and there will be lectures and tours. LJC chairman Faina Kukliansky will open ceremonies with a welcome speech at 12 noon. Saulius Pilinkus will MC and new Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Yossi Avni Levy, Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department head Vidmantas Bezaras and Lithuanian Ethnic Minorities Department director Vida Montvydaitė will also welcome participants.

European Day of Jewish Culture Events in Vilnius

European Day of Jewish Culture Events in Vilnius

Sabbath in the Jewish Quarter, a lost tradition where every Friday evening the Jewish family sat down at the dinner table together, lit the candles, prayed and broke bread, followed by a day of rest on Saturday, and the beginning of the new week on Sunday.

Let’s rediscover the ferment, history, tastes, smells and melodies of the Jewish Quarter on the European Day of Jewish Culture.

Program here.

Registration here.

Condolences

We send our sincerest condolences to the Bagel Shop café’s Valentina Kot-Osipian on the death of her beloved mother. We wish the family strength in this time of difficulty.

Lithuanian Jewish Community

On the Closure of the LJC and Choral Synagogue for an Indeterminate Period

On the Closure of the LJC and Choral Synagogue for an Indeterminate Period

ANNOUNCEMENT

ON THE CLOSURE OF THE LJC BUILDING AND SYNAGOGUE FOR AN INDETERMINATE PERIOD

The continual, escalating publicly-expressed desire by one political party for recognizing perpetrators of the mass murder of the Jews of Lithuania as national heroes and the demand these people be honored with commemorative plaques and by other means, as well as the public call to attend protests to defend this shameful position on August 7 not only divide Lithuanian society, but actively set factions against one another.

Anti-Semitic comments and inscriptions which are posted to social media pages of political parties and their leaders are being tolerated and go unpunished (even calling the Christian Mary “Jew-girl”), which makes us wonder even more whether we are safe or not.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has received threatening telephone calls and letters in recent days. In this atmosphere of rising tension and incitement to more tension, neither the LJC nor the synagogue in Vilnius have the means to insure the safety of visitors, including Holocaust survivors and their families.

We underline the fact that up to the present time we have not seen any reaction by any institution to the escalating discord. We would like to hear the opinion of the leaders of Lithuania and to hear a firm position on whether public propaganda in favor of honoring Holocaust perpetrators will continue to be tolerated in Lithuania.

In order to insure the safety of members of the community and worshipers and without any indication that the proponents of this escalating provocation will be called to disciple or account publicly, in cases where the law provides for this, the LJC has been forced to make the painful but unavoidable decision to close the LJC building and the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius for an indeterminate period.

We are also requesting additional security be provided at the Jewish cemetery on Sudervė road in Vilnius to prevent vandalism.

The LJC will adopt future decisions based on the general atmosphere and the positions adopted and expressed by Lithuanian political leaders regarding these issues.

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community
Vilnius, August 6, 2019

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.