Greetings

Simas Levinas Remembers Hanukkah in Šiauliai

Vilniaus žydų religinės bendruomenės vadovas Simas Levinas prisimena savo paauglystės Chanuką Šiauliuose

Šiauliai was a strange town in 1960. It was the Soviet time, there were still some “synagogues” illegally operating in apartments. Almost all of the local Jews used to go there to pray. It wasn’t entirely clear whether this was to satisfy a religious need, or the need to spend time with people of the same ethnicity. Or to speak Yiddish. Or to remember the horrible experiences of the Holocaust.

Or perhaps it was the instinctual psychological need to heal one’s wounds. Everyone wanted to enjoy the life which the miraculous lottery of fate had given them.

The town’s Jews stuck together and were ready to support anyone who needed it. This really wasn’t any kind of official community. Its leader was… a family with a larger apartment. We held all traditional and Sabbath evenings of Saturday talks and meetings there. This took place at the home of Josif Burshtein (the chairman of the Šiauliai Jewish Community until last summer) where Jews congregated right up until the restoration of independence.

Hanukkah was the holiday to which the town kids (they called us little Jewies) really looked forward. We were treated to hanukkahgelt, ponchikes and latkes. The parents carved dreidls out of wood. Some had managed to preserve their family heirlooms, a really miracle!, and we lit candles on pre-war menorahs.

Now I realize our parents did everything they could so that we wouldn’t know what they experienced. Everyone chipped in and used to hold the holiday, the miracles of Hanukkah, for us.

And even today most of the Jews who come from Šiauliai know and speak Yiddish. Those us “fun Shavl” [from Šiauliai] scattered around the world by fate maintain our ties.

This year on the eve of Hanukkah another miracle has taken place! We are witnesses to history. The world has begun to remember that King David’s city, whose age goes back more than 3,000 years, is the capital of the state of Israel!

The victory of the Macabbees has again lit the oil lamps of the Hanukkah miracle.

Birthday Party and Award for Daumantas Todesas at the LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community celebrated Daumantas Lveas Todesas’s 70th birthday this week and the director of the Lithuanian Department of Ethnic Minorities presented him an achievement award at the party.

Department of Ethnic Minorities director Vida Montvydaitė personally awarded him a golden badge of honor called the For Merit award in recognition of Todesas’s life-long dedication to improving society and to preserving ethnic culture and identity.

Lebn zolstu biz hundert un tsvantsik yor! Mazl tov!

Gešer Club Invites Seniors to Come Celebrate Hanukkah

The Gešer Club will hold a holiday meal with a concert and great company at 7:00 P.M. on December 12 at the Draugai restaurant located at Vilniaus street no. 4 in Vilnius. Tickets cost 20 euros. To register contact Žana Skudovičienė, zanas@sc.lzb.lt, +370 678 81514. Tickets are available from Irina Slucker, +370 612 40875, in room 306 at the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius, from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. on December 8.

Come Celebrate Hanukkah at the Ilan Club

The Ilan Club invites 7-12-year-olds and their parents to come celebrate Hanukkah together at 1:00 P.M. on December 10. There will be a rocking concert, we’ll learn how to make Hanukkah treats together and watch performances and Jewish music by talented performers!

It’s all happening on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius. For more information contact Sofija at +370 672 57540 or Žana at+370 678 81514.

Hanukkah Greetings

The Abi Men Zet Zich Club greets all our clients and friends on the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah!

At 1:00 P.M. on December 6 students and teachers from the Saulėtekis will perform in a concert called “Let’s Light the Hanukkah Light” on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius.

At 3:00 P.M. on December 12 you’re invited to the lighting of the first Hanukkah candle at the same location.

For more information contact  Žana Skudovičienė, zanas@sc.lzb.lt, +370 678 81514

Lithuania Initiated Netanyahu Visit to Brussels

BNS–Lithuania initiated the historic visit by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Brussels to meet with EU foreign ministers, diplomats confirmed Tuesday.

“Lithuania initiated what led to the planned meeting between the Israeli prime minister and EU foreign ministers during a meeting of EU member-state foreign ministerial council December 11,” Lithuanian Foreign Ministry media representative Rasa Jakilaitienė told BNS. Over the last decade Lithuania has become one of Israel’s strongest diplomatic supporters within the EU. Many other EU member-states take stronger exception to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius remarked direct dialogue is necessary to solve remaining disagreements.

In a comment sent to BNS, Linkevičius wrote: “We seek discussion between all EU states on the concerns of the Union and Israel. Direct dialogue is crucial. Only by hearing the arguments presented in discussion can we harmonize what are sometimes very different positions.

Observers say Lithuania’s pro-Israel stance might stem partially from coordination of policy with the United States and might also be due to the history of Lithuanian Jews. Recently Israel and Lithuania have intensified bilateral relations in the military and economic spheres. The Jerusalem Post reports this will be the first visit by the prime minister to Brussels in more than two decades.

Israel annexed the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem following the Six-Day War in 1967. Most EU countries and the EU as a federated entity do not recognize Israel’s declaration Jerusalem is the nation’s capital and cite the need to follow United Nations Resolution 181, or Partition Plan for Palestine, of 1947 which envisaged Jerusalem as an international city. The Jerusalem Corpus Separatum in that plan included Bethlehem and surrounding areas.

Bagel Shop and Israeli Embassy at Charity Christmas Fair in Vilnius


Photo, from right: Prime minister Saulius Skvernelis, LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, Israeli embassy deputy chief of mission Efrat Hochstetler, PM’s wife Silvija Skvernelė

An international Christmas fair fundraiser was held again this year at the Old Town Square in Vilnius. Visitors were invited to purchase handicrafts, Christmas decorations, sweets and other knick-knacks made and sold by the spouses of foreign ambassadors resident in Vilnius, embassy personnel, social welfare organizations.

Photo: President Valdas Adamkus, Faina Kukliansky, former first lady Alma Adamkienė

The international Christmas fair is an annual initiative by the International Women’s Association of Vilnius, which includes women from Lithuania and foreign women temporarily living and working in Lithuania as members.

Photo: Apostolic nuncio archbishop Pedro Quintana

Lithuanian Jewish Community and Bagel Shop volunteers went all out this year to make this event a success. The Israeli embassy’s booth sold Lithuanian and Israeli products and collected almost 4,500 euros for charity, three times more than last year’s amount.

More photos here.

Happy 70th, Daumantas Levas Todesas!

The Lithuanian Jewish Community sends birthday greetings to Daumantas Levas Todesas, born November 25, 1947, a long-time member of the LJC executive board, the director of the Jakovas Bunka charity and support fund, vice-president of the Makabi athletics club and consultant to the director of Moscow’s Vakhtangov theater, among other things.

You have dedicated so much of your life to the preservation of Litvak heritage and of the remaining wooden synagogues, to promoting Jewish history and culture, to fostering understanding between Jews and Lithuanians and to encouraging recognition of Jewish traditions in Lithuanian society.

In 1989 you were one of the organizers of the Makabi delegation sent to the Maccabiah Games in Israel, back when Lithuania was still under the Soviets, the delegation of athletes who raised the Lithuanian flag for the first time in decades at an international event.

Daumantas, we wish you health and happiness and that your beguiling charm, great sense of humor and sharp wit would continue to illuminate the Community for many years to come!

Lebn zolstu biz hundert un tsvantsik yor! Mazl tov!

Happy 50th Birthday to Rabbi Krinsky

Happy 50th birthday to Rabbi Krinsky! Mazl tov!

The Lithuanian Jewish Community congratulates Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky on his birthday and thanks him for his efforts and sincere work over many years for the good of our community. A young Jewish generation has grown up in Lithuania accompanied by your teaching and good works. Rabbi, the Jewish community wishes you and your family strength and health and that the Light of the Torah would illuminate all your future work.

Mazl tov. May you live to 120!

LRT TV Program Author Vitalijus Karakorskis Wins Prize for Intercultural Communication

November 16 is UNESCO’s International Day of Tolerance. Under the UNESCO definition in its Declaration of the Principles of Tolerance, tolerance doesn’t mean a tolerant attitude towards social injustice, nor the renunciation of one’s principles and their replacement with someone else’s. It means everyone is free to hold their own convictions and recognizes the right of others to do the same. It means recognizing people are born with different appearances into different social conditions, learn different languages, behavior and values, and have the right to live in peace and preserve their individuality.

The Ethnic Minorities Department under the Government of Lithuania named winners of its prize for intercultural communication November 13. There were 37 separate works in the running this year, including television programs, articles and interviews.

The judges’ panel awarded the prize to journalist, editor and filmmaker Vitalijus Karakorskis for originality and for discovering incredible connections between the ethnic communities resident in Lithuania in his making of an episode of the Lithuanian public television (LRT) program Menora on the topic of Dr. Jonas Basanavičius and Lithuanian Jews, on the 90th anniversary of the death of the patriarch of the Lithuanian state. They also awarded the prize to Siarhey Haurylenka for exceptional treatment of the cultures of Lithuanian ethnic minorities and the Belarusian language in the LRT television series about culture and history called “Cultural Crossroads: The Vilnius Notebook.”

Righteous Gentile Marija Rusteikaitė to Be Commemorated in Panevėžys

Dear members,

A ceremony to unveil a stele honoring Marija Rusteikaitė, rescuer of Jews, teacher, nurse, public figure and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Love of God, will be held at 1:00 P.M. on Friday, October 27.

The ceremony will be held at the intersection of Tilvyčio and Krekenavos streets in Panevėžys. Bus transportation from Vilnius will be provided from the Lithuanian Jewish Community at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius at 10:45 A.M. There are ten seats left at the time of this writing. Those wishing to take the bus should send an email to info@lzb.lt

Those riding by bus will be delivered back in Vilnius in time for the special Sabbath at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius.

LJC Calendar for 5777 Wins Prize at Unusual Ceremony

A Jewish calendar published by the Lithuanian Jewish Community last year took first place in an annual Lithuanian calendar contest October 20.

The 28th annual Laurynas Ivinskis Prize ceremony was held in Kuršėnai, Lithuania with live Lithuanian folk music and a performance by the Fayerlakh ensemble.

The theme of the LJC calendar for 5777 was Lithuanian rescuers of Jews. It featured interwar president Kazys Grinius and wife Kristina on the cover, both Righteous Gentiles. Each month featured more than one story of rescue.

Laurynas Ivinskis (1810-1881) was a 19th century calendar maker whose agricultural calendars were also more text than calendar, and were for a period of time forbidden by Russian authorities because they were written in Lithuanian using the Latin rather than Cyrillic alphabet. His almanachs included stories and parables in pre-standard Lithuanian.

Sukkot: Don’t Read This–It’s Utterly Futile

Dear Friend,

Here is a dismal, if anecdotal, indicator of the state of Jewish education: whenever I have asked, I have found that the overwhelming majority of Jews don’t know the phrase “nothing new under the sun” comes from the Bible.

In fact, it’s a central motif in the book of Kohelet, or Ecclesiastes, an enigmatic megillah we read during the forthcoming holiday of Sukkot.

The choice of Kohelet for Sukkot is a curious one. Sukkot is supposed to be the most joyous festival in our calendar, and yet, on it we read a book that starts with this uplifting phrase: “Utter futility, utter futility, everything is futile.” Gulp. Chew on that, shiny happy people. Solomon, to whom Kohelet is traditionally attributed, must be Judaism’s most infamous party-pooper.

Come Learn about Jewish Fall Holidays

Žydų rudens šventės – kviečiame į paskaitą

Sukkot, or Sukkos, is the feast of tabernacles, meaning tents.
Simchat Torah, or Simkhas Torah, is a celebration of the Torah.

Description:
The Lithuanian Jewish Community and educator Natalja Cheifec invite you to a lesson where you’ll learn:

Why Jews must dwell in these booths made especially for Sukkot
When sins become good deeds
What the requirement of the four species means
Why Simchat Torah is the holiday of rejoicing in the Torah
Why Jews are not only allowed but required to drink during Simchat Torah

and many additional interesting facts. Students will also receive a small gift.

Register here:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1oN-Nj3-EYpdg2xFAl82GJPeWLxqhzyomQ6e6JdEZ9OQ/edit

We meet at 2:00 P.M. on October 8 at the entrance to the Bagel Shop Café located at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius.

Rosh Hashana at the Choral Synagogue

LJC members and guests gathered to celebrate the eve of Rosh Hashana at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius Wednesday, September 20. The celebration kicked off with Yiddish songs. Famous Lithuanian musician, organ player, pianist and vocalist Vitalijus Neugasimovas sang. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas delivered New Year’s greetings.

LJC calendars for 5778 were passed out and celebrants sampled traditional Rosh Hashana foods from the Bagel Shop Café. Services began after the sumptuous treats.

Stella Maris Didn’t Just Rescue Those Lost at Sea: How Father Galdikas Saved Jews

by Romualdas Beniušis
Pajūrio najienos

Stella Maris-Marija. Mary, the star of the sea. That’s what the brothers Galidkas—priest Jurgis (1883–1963) and Lithuanian volunteer soldier Valentinas(1902–1966)—called the wooden chapel they paid for and built in Pašventys village on the banks of the Šventoji River. The Catholics of Šventoji, Būtingė and the surrounding area had no church of their own and they had to go to Palanga, Laukžemė or Darbėnai to attend church.


Galdikas in exile in Germany, ca. 1918

Jurgis Galdikas was born in Lazdininkai village in the Kretinga district in 1883 to the family of an average farmer. He went to school in Lazdininkai and the Darbėnai primary school, then the Palanga pro-gymnasium, and upon graduation chose to enter the priesthood and entered the Kaunas Priests Seminary. He was consecrated as a priest after being graduated in 1907, then continued to study theology in Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. He defended his thesis to become a doctor of philosophy in 1911. After returning to Lithuania he was the vicar in Šiauliai and was then appointed parish priest after the outbreak of World War I. He established and headed a gymnasium there. In 1916 the occupational regime of Kaiser’s Germany deported him with a group of Lithuanian priests to Germany where he spent two years. Returning to Lithuania in 1919, he was appointed director of the Kražiai pro-gymnasium, whose curriculum was based on etiquette, ethics and morality and which became the Žiburys gymnasium in 1924. He was sent to Telšiai in 1927 to become a canon of the capitulum (collegium) in the Telšiai diocese and from 1927 to 1932 he was a teacher and inspector at the Telšiai Seimnary.

Rosh Hashana Greetings from LJC Chairwoman Faina Kukliansky

Dear members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community,

I wish you a sweet 5778! I greet you wish you as much peace, goodness and calm as possible in your families and in the community, and to enter the New Year with a smile. The most important thing is that there be the least amount of anger possible, and that our health and moods might be better. May concord, understanding and a good communal feeling lead you.

Educational Rosh Hashana Evening

This evening we will not only have fun, try food and look at the new Jewish calendar for 5778, we’ll also renew our knowledge of this sweetest of Jewish holidays. Be there, 6:00 P.M., Tuesday, September 19, on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Happy (Jewish) New Year: L’Shana Tova U’Metuka

by Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary

The photo above is my shofar, an instrument made out of a ram’s horn, which is a traditional part of the Rosh HaShanah ceremony. Personally, I am unable to make any sound come out of the shofar, but both of my kids are quite adept at it. Don’t ask me how they learned it–I have no idea!

Today is the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShanah, which is the Jewish New Year. According to Jewish tradition, Rosh HaShanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world. In Hebrew, we say L’shana Tova U’metuka (שנה טובה ומתוקה), meaning, for a sweet new year.

As the New Year, Rosh HaShana is a celebratory holiday, but there are deeper meanings as well.