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Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium Holds Bar/Bat Mitzva Cermemonies

Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium Holds Bar/Bat Mitzva Cermemonies

Fifty-six seventh graders from the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium in Vilnius celebrated their bar and bat mitzvas Monday. This coming-of-age ceremony is extremely important in Judaism. Following the ceremony a boy or girl is considered an adult. Whereas before his or her parents are responsible for the child following the traditions and laws of Judaism, after the ceremony the individual is himself or herself responsible and has the right to study Torah, follow its laws and is considered responsible for his or her actions.

Leron Blank celebrated his bar mitzva at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius. Before the ceremony Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky spoke about how significant this ceremony is for every Jewish boy, his family and his friends.

“This is a great joy–publicly, following all the rules–to celebrate bar mitzva! My bar mitzva was at home with the curtains closed… We were, after all, afraid… It was dangerous… So we really appreciate what we have,” Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium principal Miša Jakobas said at the ceremony. Leron read a passage from the Torah out in public, an essential part of the ceremony. His parents, teachers, relatives and friends watched with obvious emotion.

Rescuers Celebrated in Kaunas

Rescuers Celebrated in Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community continued this year its spring tradition of commemorating those who rescued Jews from the Holocaust.

Rescuers and the rescued came together again in a warm celebration of friendship and humanity. Professor Saulius Kaušinis who spoke at this year’s event said it and the stories behind could serve as an example of peace and peaceful coexistence in today’s world troubled by conflict, hate and terrorism.

This year the commemoration coincided with Holocaust Day and six candles were lit in memory of the six million Jews murdered in Europe.

Tenth-grade Art Gymnasium student Patricija Pugžlytė performed a piece from Schindler’s List on cello. Actress Kristina Kazakevičiūtė, herself the daughter of a rescuer, helped create an atmosphere of reflection and at the same time joy, and after all the point of the ceremony was to celebrate life. The saxophonist Michail Javič also performed.

It was sad to note the dwindling ranks of both the rescuers and the rescued, but at the same time it was a great joy to see their children and grandchildren there who were eager to share their family stories.

Irena Vesaitė Awarded Polish Prize

Irena Vesaitė Awarded Polish Prize

Kauno diena

The Borders ethnic, cultural and art foundation in Sejny, Poland, awarded its “Person on the Edge” prize to Lithuanian professor Irena Vesaitė Thursday.

“Her intellectual courage and active community work has made Vesaitė a true moral authority in Lithuania and Europe. The path upon which she found meaning and her goal is the path of the teacher who understands life itself as art,” foundation director Krzysztof Czyżewski said in a press release from the Ministry of Culture.

The press release said the professor was awarded the prize for her practice of the ethos of the marginalized, her art and her philosophy of life which were an inspiration to all recipients of the prize and a pillar of support in moments of doubt.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Victory Day at the LJC

Victory Day at the LJC

The world marks Victory Day, the end of World War II, on May 8 and 9, and every year the Lithuanian Jewish Community has honored the veterans and the fallen. This year Victory Day coincided with Israel’s national holidays to honor fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorism as well as the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This year Israeli veterans also attended the LJC ceremony.

As in prior years, veterans were singled out and congratulated and thanked, including this year Fania Brancovskaja, Riva Špiz, Tatjana Archipova Efros, Borisas Berinas and Aleksandras Asovsky.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky greeted veterans as did executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas and Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon, himself a military veteran. Žana Skudovičienė moderated the ceremony.

Happy Birthday to Eta Gurvičiūtė

Happy Birthday to Eta Gurvičiūtė

Eta Gurvičiūtė is a long-time member of the Community and worked at the LJC’s Medical Consultation Center for many years.

Dear Eta, the Lithuanian Jewish Community wishes you good health and all the warmth you have given to others. We always remember you and sincerely congratulate you on your birthday. May the coming years bring you happiness, strong health and fun.

Mazl tov! May you live to 120!

Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium Marks Israeli Independence Day

Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium Marks Israeli Independence Day

Compared to earlier extravaganzas this year the Sholem Aleichem school in Vilnius held a remarkably low-key celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut or Israeli independence day on May 9, commemorating Israel’s 71st birthday.

Two years ago a dance troupe juggled flaming objects in tandem followed by a mass overflight of drones. Last year was also special to mark 70 years of independence. This year teachers and staff held a small commemoration ceremony inside the school during the day with voluntary attendance by students, followed by games and a picnic on the athletics field. A sound system provided the appropriate Israeli songs for the occasion and there was a tripod set up over live coals where a woman in a peasant costume cooked fresh bread. Parents brought picnic foods and set them on benches outside according to the class their child or children were in. A small game took place on the court where children threw balls lined with velcro at a similarly velcroed target. Those who made it within two rings of the bullseye received a candy. Participants appeared to have a great time just because parents and children had a chance to meet and socialize.

Thank You!

Thank You!

We send a great big THANK YOU to Mr. Tadas who responded to our call for help and not only gave but brought to our door a washing machine needed so much by one of our families.

The washing machine is already operational and successful in its new home. Mrs. Yelena and her children who received the gift send their warmest wishes and greatest gratitude. Thank you, Tadas, from the entire community and from the Social Programs Department, and on behalf of the family. Your good deed will remain in our minds for long to come.

Purim at the Panevėžys Jewish Community

Purim at the Panevėžys Jewish Community

The Panevėžys Jewish Community celebrated Purim with a play, carnival costumes and masks this year. “The Purim holiday is full of fun, community and the faith the Jewish people are strong and able to overcome all afflictions,” Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman told celebrants. Holiday greetings from Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and others were also delivered.

The Purim play was performed by A. Narevič as Ahasuerus, V. Savinčė as Esther, G. Kofman as Mordechai and G. Šteimanas as Haman.

O. Juošpaitienė served as MC at the celebration and told the story of the Purim holiday contained in the Book of Esther.

Happy Birthday to Riva Špiz

On March 20 long-time LJC member Riva Špiz celebrated her 95th birthday. She is an active participant in the Day Club as well as a great mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and war veteran. We send our warm wishes and sincere congratulations to Riva, and wish her happiness, strong health, love and long life. May you live to 120! Mazl tov!

Purim Greetings from the Panevėžys Jewish Community

Purim Greetings from the Panevėžys Jewish Community

Greetings to everyone on this perhaps happiest of all holidays, Purim, celebrated in spring.

We wish you uplifting emotions, happy moments and success. Make sure to have a mask at the ready! The holiday celebrated on the first month of spring is filled with fun, community and the faith that the Jewish people are strong and able to overcome all problems. Happy Purim!

Moments in the Life of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community

Moments in the Life of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community

A “creative afternoon” was held February 22 where Community member Garold Vaisbrod and Ukrainian Association member Alla Baniulienė read their poetry.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, our senior women were greeted by men in a comfortable and warm event.

Community members Daniel Šer and Josifas Buršteinas participated in the 25th annual Lithuanian Parliament Chess Tournament on March 9. For the second year in a row Daniel came back from the tournament bearing medals. He took third place overall and second place in the group of people under the age of 10.

Celebrating Lithuanian Freedom

Celebrating Lithuanian Freedom

On March 11, 1990, many Lithuanian Jews became witnesses to an important and unforgettable event when the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic almost unanimously (of 130 delegates 6 abstained, none voted against) the act for the restoration of Lithuanian independence. The Republic of Lithuania submerged by foreign powers in 1940 had resurfaced. This allowed for the restoration and work of the Lithuanian Jewish Community as well. Happy Independence Day!

Ąžuoliukas Anniversary Concert at LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Ąžuoliukas Music School will hold a chamber ensemble concert to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the school and the 60th anniversary of the Ąžuoliukas Boys and Young Men’s Choir.

The concert begins at 5:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 28, at the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius.

Director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of Year for 2018

Director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of Year for 2018

kaunas.kasvyksta.lt

The Sugihara Foundation/Diplomats for Life awarded director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of the Year for 2018 and presented their Leonidas Donskis prize to publicist Pranas Morkus at the Catholic Theology Cathedral of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas February 24, 2019.

Varnas was selected for the prize for his search for alternative language for theater and plays, especially in his latest works, Nathan the Wise and Ghetto, performed at the Kaunas State Drama Theater.

Varnas said his first reaction was complete surprise. “When I’m working I never think about these kind of things,” he said, adding he experiences a conflict in contemporary theater which often becomes nothing more than a way to make an audience laugh. “I am glad real theater is still needed, theater which discusses uncomfortable things, which speaks the truth,” Varnas said as he accepted the prize.

Litvak Literature: Grigoriy Kanovich at 90

Litvak Literature: Grigoriy Kanovich at 90

by Sergejus Kanovičius

My father wrote “Shtetl Love Song” at the age of 84. And he promised himself he wouldn’t write more: “it’s better I not write, and I don’t want to write more poorly.” Over the last six years his books have been translated to and published in English, German and Macedonian. They are being translated now as well, and soon more will appear. No matter how my brother and I have tried to provoke Father to write more, he firmly keeps to the promise he made to himself. Not a month goes by that he doesn’t get a letter from publishers or journalists asking for interviews, to attend a book launch or to travel to deliver a lecture. Very rarely he agrees to answer questions in writing: “I have said everything already, I have written everything, let them read my books.”

It’s not the first time when his name is heard at the bustle of the book fair, when his selected writings are presented, Rūta Oginskaitė’s memoir biography “Gib a Kuk” [Take a Look] and now “Linksmos Akys” [Happy Eyes]. But the author is not at the book fair. And he won’t be at the next one, although there might be a different book. If not at the Lithuanian book fair, then maybe the German, Polish or English. As I recall Father never liked answering questions about his work. It seemed incomprehensible to him how an author could also interpret that which he has created, and he didn’t understand either how one could explain what one has experienced and given birth to. Just take me and read. Father doesn’t like questions about his work. Unless those questions are broader, about a worldview. But this is in the books, too.

Rudashevski Ghetto Diary Wins Main Prizes at Vilnius Book Fair

Rudashevski Ghetto Diary Wins Main Prizes at Vilnius Book Fair

The Vilnius ghetto diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski, translated and published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community, has won the Book of the Year distinction at the annual Vilnius Book Fair currently being held in the Lithuanian capital.

Deputy minister for culture Gintautė Žemaitytė congratulated the designers and publishers, presenting them prizes and diplomas. The book was recognized as the best book in terms of design, taste and art for 2018. The Lithuanian Cultural Ministry has presented the prize annually 26 years now. Over 130 publications competed for the title this time.

Book designer Sigutė Chlebinskaitė won the main prize for sensitive aesthetics and holistic concept. Congratulations to Sigutė for her talent and for dedicating it to the boy from the Vilnius ghetto.

The LJC won in the category of publisher. We are so glad we were able to present this monument to the children of the Holocaust to the Lithuanian reader.

Israeli Street Food at the Bagel Shop

Have you noticed street food is replacing fast food? Or maybe fast food is going to the streets? Groups of friends meet and sample incredible tastes at picnic tables with chairs tossed around chaotically in undefined spaces. Vilnius has a number of such street-food outlets now, open to the air even in winter or hiding between booths in a covered market serving simple meals. The ferment and throng of humanity are almost more important than the food itself, jostling in line to be served. Come experience the balagan (chaos) at the Bagel Shop Café’s third birthday in the first two-and-a-half weeks of February. We’ll be serving Israeli street food with a special menu including falafel, sabih and other pita sandwiches and dishes. You can vote for your favorite and the winner will become an item on our permanent menu. The main birthday party will be all day on February 17, starting at 10:00 A.M. and culminating in a concert in the early afternoon.

Complete balagan program available in Lithuanian here.

Bagel Shop Café Turns 3

Bagel Shop Café Turns 3

Three years ago Jewish bagels reappeared in Vilnius. For three years the Bagel Shop Café has been providing a Litvak bagel which customers enjoy with lox, cheese and other spreads. Thank you to all our customers who have helped bring back culture back on our tables and into our hearts.