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Lithuanian Jewish Community Remembers Fallen Israeli Soldiers and Terrorism Victims

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the embassy of Israel marked Yom haZikaron, the day for fallen Israeli soldiers and terrorism victims, April 30.

The day chosen for the commemorative holiday isn’t arbitrary. On Iyar 4, 5708 (May 13, 1948) the defenders of Gush Etzion, a cluster of settlements south of Jerusalem, perished, not knowing within 10 hours the independent State of Israel would be proclaimed.

Annually, those who fell in the Arab-Israeli wars and including IDF troops, police, security forces, spies abroad and Jewish underground members are remembered. Officially those who fell from 1860 are counted, the year considered the start of the Jewish battle for the Jewish state of Israel.

There is no tomb of the unknown soldier in Israel because Israelis react deeply and emotionally to every loss, the memory of each one is cherished and everyone is remembered. In recent years the day has also commemorated victims of terrorist attacks, whose numbers increase each year and include children, women, the elderly and youth.

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With sadness we report the death of Chaim Rostovskij, a member of the Šiauliai Jewish Community, on April 30. He was born May 5, 1934. Our sincere condolences to his loved ones.

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Sabina Novikova, a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community, passed away this April 30. She was born November 1, 1929. Our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.

Kaunas Community Marks One Year since Death of Yudel Ronder

A year has passed since the Kaunas Jewish Community lost one of our most senior and most honored members, Yudel Ronder. His memory was honored with a prayer before Sabbath began, and later over dinner many shared their memories of the extraordinary man. Highly intelligent, cultured, warm, sincere and honest, his bright wit and wisdom accompanied him even during grave illness at hospital until the last moment of his life. He was extremely active and interested in a broad range of subjects. He began many projects and activities. Even in the dark Soviet era, he sought out rescuers, told their stories and concerned himself with making sure they were honored and taken care of. He also looked for Holocaust perpetrators and without fear met with them, trying to get inside their consciences and disturb their peaceful sleep. He was one of the first Jews involved in volunteer club activities during the Soviet era, the enthusiastic director of a drama group whose performances attracted scads of viewers. The performances were in Yiddish and he sought out actors fluent in the language. The current chairman of the Kaunas Jewish Community, Gercas Žakas, who knows Yiddish well, was invited to join the troupe and became one of main actors there. Ronder took care of his people and organized welfare for the poor. He made contact with German welfare organizations, earned their highest respect and received funding for material aid for members of the Kaunas Jewish Community.

Originally from Kėdainiai (Keydan), he lost his family and relatives in the Holocaust. He survived by being evacuated to the Soviet Union and served in the 16th Division. Ronder dedicated all his energies and devoted his heart to others. People who had the opportunity to make his acquaintance have never forgotten him and his warm stories about his grandfather. Yudel’s grandson Dovydas remembers them well and he came from Germany especially to mark the one-year anniversary of Yudel’s death. Kristina, the daughter of Yudel’s long-time care-giver Stefa Ancevičienė who became very close to him, also remembers his stories well.

Nechama Lifšicaitė Has Died

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is sad to announce the death of Nechama Lifšicaitė (Nekhama Lifshits, נחמה ליפשיץ) and we send our condolences to her daughter Roza. The older Litvak generation remembers well Nechama’s enchanting voice and her lyrical-coloratura soprano song. As we express our condolences, we say: let the ground be soft for her, and recordings of her songs will remind us all of the wonderful songstress and her interesting personality for a very long time to come.

Nechama was born in Kaunas in 1927 and grew up in a traditional Jewish family. She attended a Jewish school where her father Yehuda Tzvi was principal from 1921 to 1928. He later became a doctor. During World War II Nechama and her family found shelter in the Soviet Union and lived in Uzbekistan. They returned to Kaunas after the war. From 1946 to 1951 she studied at and was graduated from the Vilnius Music Conservatory. She performed concerts of her songs in Yiddish beginning in 1956. According to Solomon Atamuk, “Both in Lithuania and throughout the [Soviet] Union, Lifšicaitė provided refreshing national and spiritual sustenance to the Jews thirsting for their culture. Nechama’s songs expressed the deepest experiences and aspirations of the Jews of the Soviet Union; they were moving and spiritualizing.”

Overcoming limitations on doing her repertoire was not a simple matter during the Soviet era, but Nechama Lifšicaitė was able to turn her concert tour across many Soviet cities into a wake-up call for cultural and ethnic identity. Despite the negative view taken by government agencies towards the ethno-cultural activities in which Nechama Lifšicaitė was engaged, she was recognized in 1958 for her exceptional artistic expression and vocal abilities with first prize in the Soviet music maestro competition, and was granted permission to tour abroad. She performed in Austria, Belgium and France. Her songs were released on two records in 1960 and 1961, which were reissued several times in later years.

Nechama Lifšicaitė and her family made aliyah to Israel in 1969 where two more records of her songs were released that same year. She performed in cities and villages, on the radio and on television. Her appearances were great successes. In the period from 1969 to 1972 she did concert tours of the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Brasil and Australia. In 1976, without retiring from her musical career, she completed library science studies at Bar-Ilan University and became director of the historical archive of the Tel Aviv Municipal Music Library.

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Donald Jay Rickles passed away at his home in Beverly Hills, California, April 6 from kidney failure at the age of 90. He is survived by his wife Barbara Rickles (formerly Sklar), his daughter Mindy Rickles and two grandchildren Ethan and Harrison Mann. His wife was at his side as he died. Their son Larry, born in 1970, passed away in 2011.

He was born to Jewish parents in Queens, New York, on May 8, 1926. His father Max Rickles emigrated in 1903 with his Litvak parents from Kaunas (then Kovno in the Russian Empire) and his mother Etta Feldman was born in New York City to Austrian immigrant parents. Rickles grew up in Jackson Heights, New York.

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Abram Miller, a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community, passed away March 17, 2017. He was born June 9, 1934. The Community sends our heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the departed for their loss.

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With deep regret we mark the passing of Anna Vasiljeva on March 11. She was born February 17, 1931, and was a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community.

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Margarita Intriligator, a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community, passed away March 11. She was born March 18, 1950. Our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.

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Liza Lukinskaya, a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community, passed away March 7. She was born May 13, 1920. Our sincere condolences to her family.

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Feliksas Teitelman passed away March 5. He was born July 16, 1935 and was a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community. Our deepest condolences to the family of the departed.

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Jelizaveta Kacnelson passed away February 15. She was born August 6, 1934. She was a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community. The entire Lithuanian Jewish Community mourns her passing and sends condolences to her surviving family members.

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Our deepest condolences to Bagel Shop employee Valentina Kot-Osipian on the loss of her beloved father.

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Howard Margol, 92, born in Jacksonville, Florida on February 22, 1924 to Morris and Sarah Margol, passed away on February 9, 2017. He was a veteran of World War II where he participated in the liberation of Dachau, a successful businessman and a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Howard Margol
Howard’s roots were in Lithuania found a true passion in the field of genealogy, becoming one of the foremost authorities on Lithuanian genealogical research. For 20 years he led Roots Tours to Lithuania and helped thousands research their heritage. He served as president of LitvakSIG, initiated and headed the Internal Passports Project and served as chair of Records Acquisitions and Translations. Howard and his wife Esther founded the American Fund for Lithuanian and Latvian Jews to support elderly Jews in Lithuania and Latvia.

May his memory be blessed.

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Sara Kučkova, a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community, passed away February 6. She was born December 15, 1919. Our deepest condolences go to her relatives in this time of loss.

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On February 3 Moisejus Fišmanas, a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community, passed away. He was born May 7, 1924. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Architect Leonidas Merkinas Has Died

Leonidas Merkinas passed away February 7. The Vilnius Jewish Community mourns the loss of their long-time member born February 27, 1948. We mourn his loss with his surviving family members, his wife Tatjana and his sons and daughter. Our deepest condolences.

A wake will be held for him tomorrow, February 8, from 11:00 A.M. to 2:15 P.M. at the funeral home on Olandų street in Vilnius. He will be buried at the Jewish cemetery.

Righteous Gentile Gražbylė Venclauskaitė Has Died

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On February 1 at the age of 105 attorney and honorary citizen of the city of Šiauliai Gražbylė Venclauskaitė passed away. She was born in 1912 to a notable and special family, each member of which individually and as a family became part of history and inseparable components of the life and growth of Šiauliai and Lithuania. In deepest sorrow the Lithuanian Jewish Community mourns her loss. The Community had been preparing a greeting to her on her birthday, noting all the accomplishments of her and her family rescuing both Jews and Lithuanians. The State of Israel recognized Venclauskaitė’s bravery in saving Holocaust victims, bestowing the title of Righteous Gentile.

Venclauskaitė had become a symbol of the city of Šiauliai, embodying optimism and quick wit, and was a living legend. She will likely be buried next to her father Kazimieras Venclauskis, the first mayor of Šiauliai in independent Lithuania before World War II.