Greetings

First Day of School

First Day of School

The Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium began the school year Monday with a large welcome-back ceremony attended by new Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Yossi Avni Levy. Principal Miša Jakobas spoke to the large audience of pupils, parents and teachers:

“This is my last September today. All these years I’ve been with you, I’ve shared my heart and feelings with you. There is no greater feeling today than that which I feel seeing Lithuanian and Jewish children sing the Israeli anthem. I would like to thank everyone who believed in me. The school and the high school understand that nothing lasts forever. Today I can only take pride in our wonderful teachers and great atmosphere,” he said. After thanking teachers by name, he added: “I am very proud that our 70 gymnasium students are doing especially well.”

Happy Birthday to Moisiejus Šeras

Happy Birthday to Moisiejus Šeras

Our birthday greetings to Moisejus Šeras, long-time member of the LJC and the minyan at the Choral Synagogue. We wish you great health, love and happiness! May you live to 120! Mazl tov!

Happy Birthday to Maja Moskvina

Happy Birthday to Maja Moskvina

Birthday greetings to long-time volunteer doctor at the LJC’s Social Department Maja Moskovina. We love and respect our doctor with her positive and comforting manner, smile and professional explanations to clients on medicine and infirmities.

May you live to 120! Mazl tov!

Lithuanian Olympic Committee Congratulates Lithuanian Makabi on Wins at European Maccabi Games

Lithuanian Olympic Committee Congratulates Lithuanian Makabi on Wins at European Maccabi Games

Lithuania’s National Olympic Committee have sent their congratulations to the Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club on the latter’s outstanding showing at the 15th European Maccabi Games held in Budapest in early August. Makabi Club president and head of delegation Semionas Finkelšteinas said their win was unprecedented both in the last hundred years of Lithuanian Jewish sporting history and in Lithuanian athletics overall.

The Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club teams contain many young people, which might explain their outstanding recent victories and should insure many more victories to come.

This year Lithuanian Makabi athletes took home around 62 medals, 25 of them gold. Although the athletes from Lithuania originally won 81 awards, but in the final count only medals won individually or in pairs or teams with athletes from a single country were registered, leaving Lithuanian Makabi an appreciable haul. During awards ceremonies the Lithuanian national anthem played a whopping 25 times and the Lithuanian flag was raised the same number of times.

Happy Birthday to Miša Jakobas

Happy Birthday to Miša Jakobas

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is pleased to send our congratulations to Miša Jakobas, principal of the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium, on his milestone birthday. You are an excellent and accomplished teacher, and your school is among the top-rated in Lithuania. Not only do your students learn excellent Lithuanian and Hebrew, they also learn responsibility, ethics and good behavior. You have succeeded in preparing young people for responsible citizenship.

We wish you health, strength, love and the respect of your students. May hope and joy always follow you! Mazl tov!

IHRA Chairman Commends Removal of Noreika Plaque

IHRA Chairman Commends Removal of Noreika Plaque

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance commends the brave action taken by mayor Remigijus Šimašius to remove the plaque honoring Jonas Noreika due to the controversy surrounding his actions during the Holocaust, including his role in the ghettoization and expropriation of property of Jews in Šiauliai district in 1941.

It is important to remember that any distortion of the history of the Holocaust can allow for more violent and more dangerous forms of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism to take place. We will continue to work with the governments of our 33 member countries to counter distortion and antisemitism to honor the memory of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Ambassador Georges Santer
IHRA chair
August 1, 2019

Most Successful European Maccabi Games Ever for Lithuanian Makabi Club

Most Successful European Maccabi Games Ever for Lithuanian Makabi Club

Photo: Erika Filipviciutė, Kamile Ilijonskytė, Robert Nikitin, Kristijonas Sreiberis, Andrei and Aleksei Fadeev, trainer Oksana Sinkevič, team captain Artiom Perepelica and head of delegation Semionas Finkelšteinas

The 15th European Maccabi Games have concluded in Budapest. Thirty athletes from Lithuania won 81 medals. Six swimmers won the highest share of medals, 65. In the yoouth group Erika Filipavičiūtė won 13 medals, consisting of 11 gold and 2 silver. Kamilė Ilijonskytė won 7 gold medals and one bronze. Kristijonas Šreiberis won 7 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 2 bronze medals. Robertas Nikitinas won 5 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze medals.

The Fadeev brothers made a good showing in the adult group. Andrei won 3 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze. Aleksei won 5 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals.

Fencer Alan Rinkevič won a gold medal in one-on-one and one gold and 2 silver medals in team fencing.

Thank You From Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel

Dear Faina Kukliansky

Thank you.

As chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, and in the name of all of our members I wish to express our sincere gratitude for your support and participation in the events memorializing the liquidation of the Kovno Ghetto and the Siauliai Ghetto.

We appreciate your good will and hospitality, and hope you will share our appreciation with your members, families and colleagues.

This was an outstanding demonstration of co-operation between Lithuanian and Israeli authorities, national and municipal, and between the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel and the Lietuvos Žydų Bendruomenė (Lithuanian Jewish Community), and the Jewish Communities of Kaunas and Siauliai.

Respectfully,

Arie Ben-Ari Grodzensky, chairman
Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel

Lithuanian Jewish Community Greets New Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda

Lithuanian Jewish Community Greets New Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda

Your excellency, president Gitanas Nausėda,

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is gladdened by and confident in the decision of the Lithuanian people and congratulates you as the new president of the country. Our wishes to you are to overcome all obstacles in aspiring to make Lithuania known in the world and in working for the benefit of the people of Lithuania. We also wish inexhaustible strength to your family who support you in your difficult tasks of governance.

It is a great honor and privilege to become head of state in the run-up to marking the 300th birthday of the Vilna Gaon in 2020. The memory of the Vilna Gaon, the symbol of Litvak learning and identity, is not subject to time, crossing national borders and uniting entire generations, as an echo from the past of the grandeur of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Jerusalem of Lithuania. We hope the rationality, philosophical thinking and spiritual legacy of this man will inspire you as well and serve as a guidepost in your future decision-making.

This is the best opportunity to consolidate political will in solving the old problems of historical justice, Holocaust commemoration, restitution, conservation of the Jewish physical and cultural legacy and improvements in the institution of citizenship.

Lithuania is a small country with a gigantic history and the Jews of Lithuania are an inseparable part of the country for 700 years now. As we move into 2020 together, we invite you to undertake an important moral challenge: to provide a new opportunity and stimulus for this history to continue.

With deepest respect,

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky Awarded Star of Lithuanian Diplomacy

LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky Awarded Star of Lithuanian Diplomacy

URM.lt

Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius awarded a Foreign Ministry award called the Star of Lithuanian Diplomacy to Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky July 5.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s highest award was bestowed on chairwoman Kukliansky in recognition of her active involvement in organizing international dialogue and important agreements, cooperation between the LJC and Foreign Ministry, her contribution to making the Goodwill Law a reality and the active involvement of the LJC under her leadership in projects at Lithuanian diplomatic offices.

“I am proud of our friendship and cooperation. This is vital to the interests of our state. Your work goes beyond just leading the Jewish community, and your work for the good of Lithuania is very visible,” Lithuanian foreign minister Linkevičius said.

Happy Birthday to Konstantinas Chružkovas

Happy Birthday to Konstantinas Chružkovas

The Lithuanian Jewish Community sends birthday greetings to Panevėžys Jewish Community member Konstantinas Chružkovas on his milestone birthday. A long-time and active member, Konstantinas is a talented folk artist and blacksmith producing amazing objects. His work is on display in the headquarters of the Panevėžys Jewish Community and he also manufactured the menorah at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius. One menorah he made was presented to Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon as a gift. Community chairman Gennady Kofman also sends his warm wishes, wishing Konstantinas even greater creativity, energy, resolution, good emotions, a long life and the love of family, wishes echoed by the LJC as a whole Happy birthday, Konstantinas.

Invited Guests Celebrate 93rd Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II

Invited guests celebrated the Queen’s 93rd birthday at the British embassy in Vilnius Friday, donning fedoras, an important fashion accessory at official British functions.

Although Queen Elizabeth II was born April 21, the Official Birthday is set in many Commonwealth nations to correspond with good weather in June. The weather in Vilnius proved beautiful Friday.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky attended the birthday party.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Happy 80th Birthday to Michael Schneider

The Lithuanian Jewish Community sends warm birthday wishes to Michael Schneider, who just turned 80.

Michael Schneider served as Executive Vice-President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) from December 1987 until May 2002. In this capacity he directed one of JDC’s largest operations in the field of Rescue, Relief and Reconstruction. Schneider, who was born in South Africa, began his career with JDC in 1978 after ten years of service as Chief Welfare Officer of the London Jewish Welfare Board. His first posting was as resident Country Director for Iran where he was based during and after the Khomeini revolution. After leaving Iran he continued to work on behalf of Iranian Jewry from JDC’s offices in Rome. In December 1979 and 1980 respectively, he became Country Director for the Iron Curtain countries of Hungary and Czechoslovakia and for Yugoslavia. In 1982 he was sent to Ethiopia following the expulsion of ORT by the Mengistu regime and obtained permission for JDC to work among the Jewish villages in Gonder Province.

Read more here.

Latvian President-Elect Has Jewish Roots

Latvian President-Elect Has Jewish Roots

President-elect of Lativa Egils Levits, 63, has Jewish roots. His father Jonass was Jewish but his mother was not, he said in an interview last month for the Delfi news channel. He and his parents were allowed to move away from the USSR to West Germany in 1972. His father Jonass was a Jewish engineer and his mother Ingeborga Levita (née Barga, nom-de-plume Aija Zemzare) a Latvian poetess. Egils earned degrees in political science and law before returning to Latvia in 1990 to help draft the Latvian declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. In 1993 he was elected to the Latvian parliament and went on to serve as Latvia’s justice minister and ambassador to Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. Levits was appointed Latvia’s representative at the European Court of Human Rights in 1995 and is currently the Latvian representative at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. He was elected president of Latvia by the parliament on May 29.

Speaking on Latvia’s Radio 1, Levits said he spends all his free time in Latvia with his family. “I like to walk around and meet ordinary people. I will get to know Latvia that way more profoundly and more personally than many of the politicians resident in Riga.”

Many Levits in Riga and Latvia hail from Panevėžys and Pabradė in Lithuania. Egils Levits, who likely has distant Litvak roots, has said Latvia should follow Lithuania’s example in supporting Jewish culture and history issues.

Victory Day Celebration Snapshots from Kaunas

Victory Day Celebration Snapshots from Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community enthusiastically celebrated Victory Day marking the victory against Nazi Germany, continuing a long-time tradition. This year no World War II veterans attended, but their widows and children, who heard their stories firsthand of the battles and horrors, did.

Many of those attending were personally freed by the Allies and their victory marked the end of their inhumane suffering and degradation. For them, this day is both one to commemorate the dead, but also an opportunity to celebrate life and its joys. Vocalist Aleksandras Rave performed his own songs and Michail Javič on saxophone enlivened the ceremony which was funded by the Goodwill Foundation.

Happy 65th Wedding Anniversary to Nelli and Ilja Goldbergai

Happy 65th Wedding Anniversary to Nelli and Ilja Goldbergai

Dear Nelli and Ilja Goldbergai,

The Lithuanian Jewish Community congratulates you on this wonderful and special occasion, your 65th wedding anniversary. You started a wonderful strong family and set an example for everyone. We wish you health, happiness and tranquility. May the love of family lend you happiness and strength.

Nelli and Ilja were married May 26, 1954. Their son Jevgenijus was born in Vilnius. Now they have three grandchildren. Nelli worked at the Sparta factory, first as a seamstress, then after completing courses at a light industry technical college she became an engineer there. She likes to sew. Ilja worked as senior mechanic at the Vilnius tobacco factory, later becoming the director there, following which he became senior engineer and a milk processing facility. He likes to fix things, wood-carving, chess and crossword puzzles. The aging couple now find it difficult to get outside and walk around, and spend most of their time in their apartment in Vilnius.

Mazl tov!

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.