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.
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.
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.
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,
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
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.”
The Šiauliai Jewish Community organized a volunteer clean-up at the Donelaitis cemetery in Šiauliai. Everyone did a great job and many graves were put in good order. Well done!
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.
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.
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.
Members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community remembered the victims of World War II on May 9. Thank you to all the heroes who fought the Nazis from 1939 to 1945 for the sake of freedom and peace, for our future and for the opportunity given us today to take joy in each new day.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community sincerely thanks Team 10 of the King Mindaugas Riflemen of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union for heeding our call for help and turning out to clean up the Sudervės road Jewish cemetery in Vilnius.
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!
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.
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.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community placed a candle in the window of our headquarters on the morning of January 13 to remember the defenders of freedom. #AtmintisGyvaNesLiudija
The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community join in greeting a member of the family, Righteous Gentile Leona Levinska, on her latest birthday. Much health and a long life, Leona!
Monday, October 12, 2020–European Jewish Congress president Dr. Moshe Kantor has welcomed the decision by Facebook to ban Holocaust denial and distortion and to better inform the public about the Holocaust.
“This is a long overdue but an important decision,” Dr. Kantor said. “Holocaust denial is not legitimate debate and is only used as an expression of hatred for Jews, so this decision is not about anything except limiting hate and anti-Semitism.”
Dr. Kantor, who is also the president of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, welcomed concerted efforts by governments, IT companies and civil society to counter the proliferation of online hatred conspiracy myths and Holocaust denial.
“At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise and knowledge about the Holocaust among young people is alarmingly low, it is crucial that online platforms continue to become part of the solution, not the problem,” Dr. Kantor said.
“This is an issue that the European Jewish Congress has long advocated for, and we thank Facebook for its regular and productive discussions with us and other Jewish organizations, both at the European and global level,” Dr. Kantor concluded.
Full statement here.
Sad news came from Kaunas October 2: Righteous Gentile Aldona Radzevičienė-Norvaišaitytė has passed away. Three years ago the Kaunas Jewish Community celebrated her 90th birthday where she even danced the waltz.
She and her family lived in Vilkaviškis where they rescued the Jews Alper Kirkilovski, Haim Chernevski and the sisters Shenka and Tsipka Verber who had escaped the Vilkaviškis ghetto just before it was liquidated and all of whom survived the war. In 1993 then-president Algirdas Brazauskas awarded Aldona the Life-Saver’s Cross and Yad Vashem recognized her as a Righteous Gentile on Junly 16, 2001.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community mourns the loss of Aldona Radzevičienė-Norvaišaitytė together with her family and many friends. Her memory will always remain vivid in our hearts.