Greetings

Silvia Foti Honored by City of Beverly Hills

Silvia Foti Honored by City of Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills, probably the highest concentration of wealth, success and power in the world, honored Lithuanian citizen Silvia Foti on Monday, July 15, 2024. The award was signed by all members of the city council.

In deciding to honor Foti the city council considered the following facts:

Silvia Foti holds dual citizenship in America and Lithuania. She has always remained loyal and patriotic to both countries. As a devout Catholic, she has stalwartly represented the finest ideals of honesty, integrity and compassion.

Silvia Foti is the granddaughter of the genocidal Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika who is continuously and fraudulently honored by the Lithuanian government as a national hero of Lithuania and a rescuer of Jews.

Miša Jakobas Receives State Award

Miša Jakobas Receives State Award

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda presented Miša Jakobas the state award the Officer’s Cross “For Merit to Lithuania” at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius on Coronation of Mindaugas Day, July 6.

The long-serving principal of the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium was recognized for forging an education model for ethnic minority schools, for creating a school open to change with a modern educational environment and for providing bilingual education.

Rabbi Andrew Baker Receives State Award

Rabbi Andrew Baker Receives State Award

Photo by Robertas Dačkus

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda conducted a state awards ceremony July 6, Lithuania’s Coronation of Mindaugas Day. Co-chairman of the Goodwill Foundation and AJC International Affairs Department director Rabbi Andrew Baker received the Commander’s Cross “For Merit to Lithuania” at the ceremony in recognition of his work for justice for the Lithuanian Jewish community and commemoration of victims of the Holocaust, among other things.

Happy Birthday to Antanas Sutkus

Happy Birthday to Antanas Sutkus

Legend of Lithuanian photography and friend of the Lithuanian Jewish Community Antanas Sutkus is celebrating a milestone birthday. The LJC wishes him a very happy birthday, and continuing good health, energy and the endless creative inspiration which has given us so many unique works of art over these many years. Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Congratulations to Our Young Chess Master Candidate

Congratulations to Our Young Chess Master Candidate

Heartfelt congratulations go to our young chess champion Daniel Ser from Šiauliai competing as part of the Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club. He took silver in the European Union chess championship and met the rating requirements for FIDE to bestow the title of candidate chess master upon him and is now the youngest candidate for master in the three Baltic states. We are very proud of Daniel and his parents and wish him every continued success.

Happy Shavuot

Happy Shavuot

Dear readers,

Happy Shavuot!

Today Jews around the world celebrate Shavuot, one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar for centuries, with not one but several significant meanings.

The first is the religious one which tells the story of how seven weeks after the Hebrews left Egypt, God gave the gift of the Torah to Moses and the entire Jewish people, the sacred text in the form of the Pentateuch with 613 mitzvot, or laws. Shavuot is also called the Feast of Weeks. Traditionally Jews do not sleep on this night and spend it studying Torah, intoning the morning prayer when dawn breaks.

This is an especially important holiday because God’s Ten Commandments have determined the whole course of human morality and civilization. Having received the oral Torah, only a portion was written down, with the rest inscribed only 1,500 years later, after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Shavuot is also the celebration of the first harvest, featuring abundant dairy products and homes decorated with flowers. Traditionally Jews make pancakes with curds and cheesecake, and eat ice cream, drink milk shakes and consume other treats.

Have a delicious holiday!

Lithuanian Makabi Triumphs in Table Tennis Tournament

Lithuanian Makabi Triumphs in Table Tennis Tournament

Last weekend the 50th annual Lithuanian ping-pong championship was held in Kelmė. Congratulations to Rafaelis Gimelsteinas representing the Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club who took away one gold and two bronze medals.

Playing singles and doubles in the 45-49 age group with partner Jurgita Grucytė from the Sostinė club, Rafaelis competed against the strong team of Aidas Čeponka and Anželika Petrauskienė who have won before. After pitched battle, in the fourth set Rafaelis and Jurgita only needed one more point to win, and concentrated sufficiently to get that point, winning 3:2 and taking gold.

“I dedicate this victory to the Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club and trainer Alirgdas Majorovas,” Rafaelis Gimelsteinas said, adding there would be chess and table tennis tournaments next Sunday at the Cvi Park space in Vilnius where he will be taking on contenders.

Germany Bestows Award on Faina Kukliansky on D-Day

Germany Bestows Award on Faina Kukliansky on D-Day

Yesterday, on historic D-Day, “decision day” marking the entry of the western Allies into Nazi-occupied France and the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany, German ambassador to Lithuania Cornelius Zimmermann presented Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany for her tireless work commemorating Lithuanian Holocaust victims and long-term efforts to unite the LJC including enhancing the organization’s role on the national and international level.

Ambassador Zimmermann presented the honor, saying Germany’s responsibility for the Holocaust will remain forever. He said the Holocaust was a barbaric crime against humanity which led to the death of 95% of the Lithuanian Jewish community. He also said the small Litvak community which survives plays an important role in Lithuanian political life and in the international community, thanks to the efforts of the exceptional person occupying the post of leadership at the LJC.

“I received this award truly not only because my parents were imprisoned in a ghetto and experienced other horrors of the Holocaust, along with other Lithuanian Jews. Their children are not presented medals because of that. I hope this award is an evaluation of preserving memory. I’m not the only person doing this, each of our communities in every region where they have been established are doing everything possible to maintain the old cemeteries and restore synagogues. Sometimes I’m asked why we are doing this if there are no Jews left in the towns anyway. In order to preserve their memory. We no longer possess our parents’ candelabra which every family had for lighting the Sabbath candles. The only thing we have left is memory and respect, and not just self-respect, but also that of the state of Germany which, despite the tragic lessons of history, today is a shining example in many regards. I truly cherish this award because it wasn’t presented to me personally but as an assessment of the work by the entire Jewish community,” chairwoman Kukliansky said, thanking the German president, ambassador Zimmermann and previous German ambassador to Lithuania Matthias Sohn.

Jews of Šiauliai Celebrate Lag b’Omer

Jews of Šiauliai Celebrate Lag b’Omer

The Šiauliai Jewish Community celebrated Lag b’Omer in their backyards last Friday evening. Lag b’Omer is a Jewish holiday which is also called the day of bonfires, weddings and the cutting of children’s hair. Because it coincided with the Sabbath of Friday, Jewish residents of Šiauliai celebrated both together.

The men kindled and fueled the fire, other men cooked the meat and the women cooked the potatoes in aluminum foil. Later the celebrants broke bread, and the women lit the Sabbath candles praying for the health and strength of their children and loved ones.

The Šiauliai Jewish Community thanks everyone who participated and celebrated these holidays in common.

Happy Birthday to Fania Brantsovskaya

Happy Birthday to Fania Brantsovskaya

Today we wish a very happy birthday to Fania Brantsovskaya, Vilnius ghetto inmate, Jewish partisan and living eye-witness to the Holocaust in Lithuania.

In the name of the entire Lithuanian Jewish Comuunity, chairwoman Faina Kukliansky extends our birthday greetings:

Dear Fania,

Your strength and tenacity in overcoming the most difficult obstacles and your passion in defense of the memory of Holocaust victims has become an example for all of us and inspire us to exert all efforts that future generations might learn the lessons of the past. We are so grateful to you for this, and wish you health, warmth, love and of course many more years to come.

Mazl tov! Bis 120!

Yom HaAtzmaut Today

Yom HaAtzmaut Today

Israeli celebrates its 76th birthday today on Israeli independence day, or Yom haAtzmaut. Israel’s Memorial Day or Yom haZikaron was marked Monday in Israel, the day of remembrance of all those who have fallen in defense of Israel, including Jewish partisans from Lithuania.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky issued a special greeting for the holiday:

“Today Israel marks Independence Day for the 76th time. It is darkened by the shadow of the lives of thousands of our dear people taken by the October 7 attack by Hamas terrorists and our thoughts for the 132 hostages still held in Gaza.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with them, the fallen soldiers and the victims to whose loved ones we send our deepest condolences and support.

LJC Invites Holocaust Survivors and Veterans to Commemoration Ceremony

LJC Invites Holocaust Survivors and Veterans to Commemoration Ceremony

Last Wednesday Lithuanian Jewish Community programs director Žana Skudovičienė invited so-called was children, now senior citizens, to a commemoration and celebration of the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allies in 1945.

As in past years, the LJC invited Holocaust victims and our veterans to celebrate the end of the Holocaust in early May, on Victory Day, celebrated on May 8 and 9.

Participants lit candles in memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, the victims of Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7 and in hope for the safe return of Hamas’s Israeli hostages.

Liba Britanishkina and Samuil Retznik, both now in their nineties but still extraordinarily active, and our centenarians Jewish partisan Fania Bratzovskaya and Aleksandr Asovski, were singled out for special attentions and presented gifts and flowers by LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky who visited them personally.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah Ceremonies

Bar and Bat Mitzvah Ceremonies

Last week the Lithuanian Jewish Community held bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies for young adults from the Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium under the tutelage of Rabbi Nathan Alfred who arrived from Geneva and Bnei Maskilim founder Viljamas Žitkauskas.

Sholem Aleichem principal Ruth Reches said during the ceremony: “Today’s ceremony is a crucially important step in the child’s life. It is crucial for us as a school to raise your children–although we call them ours sometimes–together, to unify our values, because we spend the most important part of children’s lives with them, the period when they come of age, become adults, from childhood through adolescence. We’ll only find out later how we did. So at school we are surrogate parents, and we love them so much and are so proud of them.

“Children, remember this moment, what you are like now, not just how well you’re dressed, but how spiritually exalted you are. Take this feeling and go with it for the rest of your lives. Whenever you’re tempted to wander from the path of truth, remember this moment, remember your parents and teachers and with what love they looked upon you, and then you’ll realize that behaving badly isn’t for you, it isn’t your level, because you are those we see today and want to see every day for the rest of your lives,” she said.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky congratulated participants as did Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein and the teachers in attendance.

Passover Greetings from Australian Opposition Leader

Passover Greetings from Australian Opposition Leader

Leader of the Liberal Party Peter Dutton sends Passover greetings to the Jewish community:

On behalf of the Coalition, my warmest wishes to Australia’s resilient Jewish community as you celebrate Passover.

A festival that acknowledges the importance of faith, fortitude and freedom, Passover is of profound significance for Jewish people around the world.

This year, the events of October 7–and the unprecedented level of anti-Semitism that has ensued–have cast a shadow over Passover celebrations.

The world must never forget what happened last year on that day of depravity. The monsters of Hamas acted with glee as they tormented their victims. They brutally murdered 1,200 people in what was the greatest loss of Jewish life on a single day since the Holocaust. And they vowed to repeat their savagery many times over until Israel is annihilated.

Passover Greetings from Faina Kukliansky

Passover Greetings from Faina Kukliansky

Dear reader,

Passover is one of the most important and most beautiful weeks on the Jewish calendar when we celebrate liberation from slavery and our becoming a free and proud people.

Every year we sit at the Passover table, eat the traditional foods, drink sweet wine, take joy in life and read the Haggadah and passages from the Song of Songs. The main thing is being together with family and that no one, whether rich or poor, be left unfed, if there is a way to invite him to our table. This is how it always has been, year after year and century after century.

Over the eight days of the holiday, we symbolically refrain from eating leavened food and we take joy in our freedom and in our historical homeland, Israel, which no one will ever be able to take away from us, not with rockets nor with drones.

We wish everyone freedom and dignity just as we wish these for the Jewish state, and we pray for the hostages still held in captivity.

Hag sameakh. Am Yisrael khai!