Grateful

Happy Birthday to Semionas Finkelšteinas

Happy Birthday to Semionas Finkelšteinas

We wish a very happy milestone birthday to Semionas Finkelšteinas, modern founder and president of the Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club and head of Lithuanian Makabi delegations abroad. We wish you great health, happiness and a continued sharp wit. Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Thank You to Faina Kukliansky

Dear chairwoman,

I am sincerely grateful to be part of the program “Support for Rescuers of Jews during World War II.” I would like to give a big thank you to senior coordinator Ema Jakobienė, social programs department director Michail Segal and to your entire wonderful collective, thanks to whom I am receiving material and financial support.

My parents, Stasė and Pranas Karalevičiai, rescued 19 citizens of Jewish ethnicity during the war. As a six-year-old I also contributed to this honorable activity to the extent that I could. I was awarded the Life-Saver’s Cross which was presented by president Valdas Adamkus.

Respectfully,

Elena Čepanonienė
Semeliškės, Lithuania

Jews of Kaunas Honor Rescuers

Jews of Kaunas Honor Rescuers

On June 9 the Kaunas Jewish Community honored those who rescued Jews from the Holocaust and their family members at an informal gathering.

“When you save one person, you save an entire world,” Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas said.

Child Born in Basement

Several dozen people came to the dinner at the Višta Puode restaurant in Kaunas. They shared their thoughts and impressions and generally chatted. There were songs performed in Yiddish and Hebrew using the Lithuanian folk instrument the kanklės, saxophone and harpsichord. Juozas Straupis was there with his granddaughter Monika. He had only just turned 4 when his mother and father, Bronislava and Juozas, later named Righteous Gentiles, rescued 24 people. They took seven into their home and found safe places for the others among their neighbors. Priests and the community helped take care of these people.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Victory Day

Victory Day

Members of our Community met on sunny May 8 to mark the end of World War II, an end without which none of us would likely be alive.

Šiauliai Resident Ida Vileikienė Donates Medals to Museum

Šiauliai Resident Ida Vileikienė Donates Medals to Museum

Ida Vileikienė [was] scheduled to donate Lithuanian and Yad Vashem medals awarded to her adoptive parents Zofija and Adolfo Staškas to a local museum at a ceremony there on THursday, February 10.

Ida Vileikienė is one of only a handful of surviving city residents who were imprisoned in the Šiauliai ghetto. She was born in the ghetto in the summer of 1942. Following several operations to murder the children of the Šiauliai ghetto, her parents Aaron and Liuba Rozengard sought a safe haven for their daughter and turned her over to Zofija. The Staškas family protected and raised them.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Photo album on facebook here.

Vilnius Ghetto Tour on Holocaust Day

Vilnius Ghetto Tour on Holocaust Day

The Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium invited resident diplomats and representatives of Lithuanian institutions to a walking tour of the ghetto territory in Vilnius on January 27, International Holocaust Day. The LJC would like to thank the foreign minister, members of parliament and ambassadors and embassy staff for joining us in remembering the victims of the Holocaust.

YIVO Director Thanks LJC on Milestone Achievement

YIVO Director Thanks LJC on Milestone Achievement

Dear Faina,

Today YIVO announces the completion of the Vilna Collection Project–4.1 million pages of documents and books online for people around the world–and you have been such a tremendous part of it. You introduced me to so many people, helped shepherd our grant through the Goodwill Foundation and advised on so many things. Thank you. This project truly opens new doorways for millions of people around the world. Without your support and enthusiasm I am not sure we would have been successful. I hope that when I am in Vilnius … we will be able to celebrate together.

Here is a link to the website: https://vilnacollections.yivo.org/
With my warmest good wishes for a healthy, happy, peaceful New Year,

Jonathan

Jonathan Brent
Executive Director/CEO
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Rescuers Commemorated in Šarnelė

Rescuers Commemorated in Šarnelė

Rescuers of Jews have been commemorated in Šarnelė in the Plungė region. A street has been renamed for the Righteous Gentiles, with only one household of rescuers still remaining on that street, that of poet Vytautas Mačernis. Historians say the residents of this village rescued dozens of Jews from the Holocaust.

The stone monument stands on the edge of the village of Šarnelė in front of a house where Jews hid from the Nazis. Descendants of Juozapas and Adolfina Karpauskas say their grandparents provided safe haven for Jews for three and a half years.

Grandson Aleksandras Karpauskas said: “They rescued 16 Jews, and there was another family of 10, the 2 parents and eight children. So that’s 26 people. And usually on such a large farm there would be about four hired hands, so you can just imagine that there were 30 people around you every day.”

Let’s Pitch In and Help Our Seniors

Let’s Pitch In and Help Our Seniors

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is pleased to help distribute support and gifts from Germany to the Former Ghetto Prisoners Welfare and Support Fund. Right now we need a little attention to warm the heart of each of our seniors. We invite you to volunteer to be a member of our time so we can deliver these care packages safely and quickly to our seniors. Please send an email to info@lzb.lt if you are able to help. Thank you.

Happy Birthday to Maša Grodnikienė

Happy Birthday to Maša Grodnikienė

We wish Maša Grodnikienė a wonderful birthday, good health, love and affection, many happy moments, domestic joy and happiness.

Maša has served as deputy chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community for more than 20 years and has initiated and held many important cultural events. The first World Litvak Congress held in 2001 was her initiative and she authored and moderated her Fates cultural events for many years.

Dear Maša, what you have started is being continued. No one has forgotten and the work goes on.

Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Šiauliai Unveils New Square of Righteous Gentiles

Šiauliai Unveils New Square of Righteous Gentiles

Photo: Righteous Gentile Genovaitė Černiauskaitė-Dugnienė expresses gratitude in name of Righteous Gentiles.

Righteous Gentile Square at the intersection of Vilniaus and Ežero sttreets at the former ghetto gates in the Lithuanian city of Šiauliai was opened ceremoniously and consecrated last week. The renamed square will showcase the names of people from the city and district of Šiauliai who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. The city of Šiauliai thus becomes the first municipality in Lithuania to honor Righteous Gentiles with a monument. The new park is the fruit of the Jungtis [Connection] project by Šiauliai-resident designer Adas Toleikis and includes artistic allusions to the former ghetto.

“You can’t buy love or tolerance for money, you have to grow it in your heart,” Righteous Gentile Genovaitė Černiauskaitė-Dugnienė said.

Courage of Rescuers Lesson to Us All

Courage of Rescuers Lesson to Us All

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda held the annual ceremony at the President’s Office September 14 to award rescuers of Jews from the Holocaust and their descendants the Lithuanian Order of the Life-Saver’s Cross.

“Every September as we mark the Day of Remembrance of Lithuanian Jewish Victims of Genocide, we pay respect to memory of Lithuania’s Jewish citizens murdered during World War II. We also honor the rescuers of Jews, those people who dared oppose the occupational regime without regard to the mortal danger this posed to them and their families,” he said at the ceremony.

The Lithuanian president recalled the historical context in which these rescuers operated, with anti-Semitism dripping from the pages of the press, the mass murder of Jews underway. Despite this, they dared hide the condemned Jews and resist the occupational regime.

News from the Kaunas Jewish Community

News from the Kaunas Jewish Community

I am endlessly grateful for the friendship and fruitful cooperation from the very beginning with the Kaunas 2022 team (and especially the Memory Bureau team) and I am thankful for the honor bestowed me as a member of the consultation committee for the Litvak Forum to take place in 2022.

I am so very glad because it is always pleasant to communicate with open, tolerant people who are hungry for knowledge and who are striving to insure our society might also become more open, more tolerant and more accepting.

I am glad because we are joined in a common goal: to encourage recognition of the multicultural history of our city and to appreciate what we have, while not averting our gaze from painful episodes.

Thank You to the Students, Parents and Teachers of Sholem Aleichem

Thank You to the Students, Parents and Teachers of Sholem Aleichem

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky sends a big thank-you to all the students, parents and family members of students who responded to the call by the principal and teachers of Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium to come help clean up the Jewish cemetery on Sudervės road in Vilnius. The winter wasn’t kind to the cemetery and visitors have been few. Despite the cool weather and the fact it was Mother’s Day in Lithuania, many helpers arrived to pick up garbage and fallen branches and generally tidy the graveyard up for spring in the Lithuanian tradition of talka, a joint volunteer effort to put the environment in order. Students at Sholem Aleichem can also use the experience to get credits now required for community service, so to those of you who couldn’t make it, don’t be shy next time!

Thank you!

Yom haZikaron Marked in Vilnius

Yom haZikaron Marked in Vilnius

Today is Yom haZikaron. Yom haZikaron is memorial day in Israel, dedicated to remembering all Israeli soldiers who have fallen in battle. The holiday always falls one day before Yom haAtzma’ut, Israeli independence day on Iyar 5, but if Iyar 5 falls on the Sabbath as it does this year, independence day and thus memorial day are moved up one day.

#YomHaZikaron

President Rivlin Thanks LJC for Commemorative Coin

President Rivlin Thanks LJC for Commemorative Coin

President of Israel Reuven Rivlin has sent a letter to the Lithuanian Jewish Community thanking the LJC for presenting him a Lithuanian commemorative coin celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Vilna Gaon.

“I was especially moved by this gesture as the President of the State of Israel and as a proud descendant of the Vilna Gaon,” president Rivlin wrote in his letter.

He continued: “The gift, indeed, reflects the strong and everlasting ties between us, Jews in the State of Israel and Jewish communities in the diaspora, and reflects the historic ties between Israel and Lithuania.”

President Rivlin ended his letter by calling himself a proud Litvak and sending warm greetings from Jerusalem to all members of the Community.