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Our Home Town Vilne Is 700

Our Home Town Vilne Is 700

Today Vilnius begins celebrating its 700th birthday with a series of events over the coming year. Over its entire 700 years of history the Jewish people have lived, built, created, started families, studied and achieved major milestones in culture, medicine, business, the arts and many other fields of human endeavor.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky remarked: “Today there remains only a very small Vilna Jewish community, but the contributions made by many generations of Jews to the success and thriving of this city called the Jerusalem of the North won’t allow us to forget.”

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has published a calendar to mark Vilnius’s 700th anniversary with a special Vilnius 700 logo and collages from old Jewish Vilne. The designers of the calendar were Victoria Sideraitė Alon and Albinas Šimanauskas from the creative group JUDVI & AŠ.

“The 700th anniversary of the founding of the city of Vilnius is a wonderful and significant day for all residents of the city and beyond. Sadly, in the excitement in preparing for this holiday, few remember who built the capital of Lithuania, who contributed so significantly to giving birth to this pearl of UNESCO,” chairwoman Kukliansky commented.

United States of America Hail Jewish Compensation by Lithuanian Parliament

United States of America Hail Jewish Compensation by Lithuanian Parliament

Photo: Robert Gilchrist, by D. Umbrasas courtesy LRT.lt

The U.S. embassy in Vilnius said Tuesday the United States hail the Lithuanian parliament’s decision to compensate Jewish private property seized by the Nazis and Soviets to the tune of 37 million euros.

American ambassador to Lithuania Robert Gilchrist said: “The passing of this legislation is an important step in recognizing the tragedy of the Holocaust in Lithuania. It is not, however, only about addressing claims for the past. It is about preserving the memory of the Holocaust for future generations and working together against intolerance and hatred.”

U.S. special envoy for Holocaust issues Ellen Germain commented: “After the Holocaust, there was little time to create successful restitution programs before the Communist regimes nationalized private property. By passing this bill, Lithuania has taken another important step in fulfilling restitution commitments. For survivors and their families, this is a direct acknowledgement of the great wrong that was done to them.”

The Lithuanian parliament Tuesday adopted a new redaction of the existing Law on Goodwill Compensation which additionally allocates 37 million euros for compensating Jewish private property. The existing law and previous compensation payments were for communal and religious property seized by the Nazis and the Soviets. The new legislation comes into effect in January.

Lithuanian prime minister Ingrida Šimonytė proposed the new compensation package saying Lithuania has made compensation for Jewish religious community property, but hasn’t made compensation for nationalized private property.

Hanukkah Greetings from Joe Biden and Wife

Hanukkah Greetings from Joe Biden and Wife

Joe Biden: Well, folks, Happy Hanukkah, everyone. On behalf of Jill, Doug and Kamala, thank you. And Rabbi Bronia, thank you for hanging out with me la- –a couple weeks ago. And Michèle and Abigale. To all of you here, including so many friends, thank you being–for being part of this moment.

Just over two months ago, Jill and I her- –hosted the first-ever High Holiday reception at the White House.

It was deeply meaningful. It was something that we’ve alwa- –we’ll remember. And I felt–it felt what–what the Jewish proverb teaches: “What comes from the heart goes to the heart.” And it went to our heart, for real. It’s never happened before in the White House.

Full press release here.

Lithuanian Radio and Television Reports on Hanukkah in Lithuania

Lithuanian Radio and Television Reports on Hanukkah in Lithuania

Lithuanian state radio and television reported the beginning of Hanukkah at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius Sunday. On Monday, the first Hanukkah light was lit, according to LRT, by speaker of parliament Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen.

“As we light the Hanukkah candles every year, the Jewish community sends out a message of light and friendship to all of the Lithuanian ethnic communities and to the Jewish communities around the world. We want to remind people that we can only overcome the greatest challenges by being and working together, by communicating and trying to understand one another, to light the light of knowledge, understanding and tolerance. We can all be part of the light,” Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said.

It’s customary for people to come together, have fun and share traditional Hanukkah treats such as doughnuts and latkes over all eight days of the Hanukkah holiday. Children receive traditional gifts. Faina Kukliansky recalls Litvaks traditionally ate their Hanukkah latkes with cranberry sauce.

Happy Hanukkah Greetings

Happy Hanukkah Greetings

Dear readers,

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Shmuel Levinas wish everyone an excellent and happy Hanukkah holiday.

“I wish light, peace and happiness in everyone’s hearts, and invite you to attend the lighting of the Hanukkah lights at 7:00 P.M. on Monday, December 19, at the Choral Synagogue, Pylimo street number 39, Vilnius,” chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said.

Hag Hanukkah sameakh!

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

Shmuel Levinas, chairman
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community

LJC Members and Friends Recognized on International Human Rights Day

LJC Members and Friends Recognized on International Human Rights Day

To mark international Human Rights Day on December 10, Lithuania’s Department of Ethnic Minorities held an awards ceremony at the M. K. Čiurlionis School of the Arts in Vilnius and recognized the work of a number of members and friends of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, including architect and designer Victoria Sideraitė-Alon, LJC executive board member and president of the Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club Semionas Finkelšteinas, chairman of the Klaipėda Jewish Community Feliksas Puzemskis, Vilnius Jewish Public Library director Žilvanas Bielauskas, violinist and member of the Fayerlakh Jewish song and dance ensemble Boris Kirzner, Fayerlakh chairwoman Larisa Vyšniauskienė and documentary filmmaker and television producer Lilija Kopač.

The Ethnic Minorities Department awards are distributed to members of ethnic communities, the media and NGOs for their work increasing ethnic harmony, encouraging cultural diversity and unifying multicultural Lithuania.

We sincerely congratulate all prize recipients on the recognition of their work forging a better future for the Lithuanian Jewish Community and Lithuania.

Happy Birthday to Daumantas Levas Todesas

Happy Birthday to Daumantas Levas Todesas

We wish you with all our hearts the very best, the greatest health, success in your varied endeavors and the joy and warmth of friends and family. You have served us so long in so many capacities it would take a book-length post to list them all here, not least being your work as the chairman of the Vilnius, Jerusalem of Lithuania Jewish Community, as a member of the board of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and as chairman of the Ethnic Communities Council at the Lithuanian Department of Ethnic Minorities. Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Happy Birthday to Boris Gelpern

Happy Birthday to Boris Gelpern

The Lithuanian Jewish Community wish Boris Gelpern a very happy birthday. We wish you fantastic health and happiness. May our wishes for your longevity echo out and repeat forever. Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Israel’s Gift to Vilnius: Colorful Street Art

Israel’s Gift to Vilnius: Colorful Street Art

The Israeli embassy in Vilnius has presented a gift to the city of Vilnius as the Lithuanian capital’s nominal 700th birthday approaches, along with the 30th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

City residents can view the gift at Bazilijonų street no. 6B in the Vilnius Old Town. It’s a work by the Open Gallery, an international urban galley, born as the joint endeavor of Israeli and Lithuanian artists which transports the viewer to the sunny land of Israel. The mural contains allusions to three of Israel’s major cities, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. The artist is Zoe Sever, born in the Ukraine and living in Israel, executed on the façade of an apartment building by Lithuanian artists Martynas Ivinskas and Viktorija Starygina.

Zoe Sever says her work of art symbolizes the famous phrase uttered by Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, as he travelled to the future Jewish state: “If you will it, it is no dream.”

Full story in Lithuanian with photographs available here.

Happy Birthday to Yosif User

Happy Birthday to Yosif User

We wish Yosif User, founder and editor-in-chief of the weekly Pensioner and former editor-in-chief of the Obzor Russian-language news site in Lithuania as well as a member of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, a very happy birthday. Dear Joseph, with all our hearts we wish you good health, energy, optimism, joy and warmth! Mazl tov. Bis 120!

A Very Happy Birthday to Arkadijus Vinokuras

A Very Happy Birthday to Arkadijus Vinokuras

We congratulate our famous journalist, actor, write and all-around good person Arkadijus Vinokuras on the occasion of his milestone birthday. We wish you great happiness and personal fulfillment, excellent health and continued creative success! Mazl tov. Bis 120!