Greetings

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.

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!