You are invited to come celebrate the 115th anniversary of the opening of the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius at 2:00 P.M. on December 16 at the synagogue, located at Pylimo street no. 39. The celebration is to include a concert by the Vilnius Chamber Orchestra conducted by Donatas Katkus, birthday greetings and a buffet.
Our 30th birthday Hanukkah celebration was just as fun as it was 30 years ago, and almost the same number of people attended, around 400. Although times have changed, there’s a new generation and we have lost many of those who attended in 1988, we remember them, say a good word about them and take joy in the present, in the fact that Community members of all ages came to celebrate, including children and young families from the regional communities.
Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky welcomed celebrants. Social programs department director Žana Skudovičienė spoke about the first post-war communal Hanukkah celebration on December 4, 1988, held at the Dainava restaurant in central Vilnius. Then as now, Yiddish was spoken and sung, and the Fayerlakh ensemble performed, while 30 years ago the event was organized by the Lithuanian Jewish Cultural Association.
This year we celebrated at the Radisson Blu Lietuva hotel in Vilnius. The Israeli klezmer band Gefilte Drive and saxophonist Juozas Kuraitis performed and delighted the audience with their concerts.
The Polifonija music auditorium hosted a concert December 3 held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the restoration of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community.
Most of our current members responded 30 years ago to an invitation published in the newspaper Šiaulių naujienos to attend a meeting of the Sąjūdis initiative group [Lithuanian independence movement] at the Planning Institute. About 100 Jewish residents of Šiauliai attended and the Šiauliai Jewish community was reconstituted, including the Jews of the region and formally called the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, the successor organization to the formerly large Šiauliai City Jewish Community which ceased functioning in 1941.
Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community chairman Naumas Gleizeris began the evening by welcoming and greeting the audience on Hanukkah and the 30th birthday of the organization. He thanked all guests for spending the evening with Community members.
The Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community and the Panevėžys Jewish Community gathered December 8 to celebrate Hanukkah together. Chairmen Naum Gleizer and Gennady Kofman welcomed their communities to the holiday celebration and wished everyone happiness, health and familial warmth. Frida Šteinienė read the prayer, lit the candles and retold the history of the holiday.
The holiday table featured traditional dishes such as latkes, doughnuts, gefilte fish, chopped hearing and chicken liver.
Children received the traditional gift of chocolates wrapped in gold foil in the shape of coins, Hanukkah geld. Different members performed songs and delivered musical greetings and there was much dancing.
excerpted from an article by Modesta Gaučaitė, LRT.lt
As a teachers’ strike expands across Lithuania with the recent removal of the minister of education, grabbing the headlines, the magazine Reitingai [Ratings] has published their ratings of Lithuanian schools and universities. The gymnasia were categorized according to which subject they specialized in and in which subjects their students did best. The magazine also rated schools for what they called greatest added value and grouped cities and towns according to student achievement.
The authors explained “added value” was being assessed for the first time, meaning that not only does a given school demonstrate high academic achievement, but also is able to provide for its students a good atmosphere, good interpersonal relations and the feeling of success in studies to the individual student.
“As the study shows, there are only 21 such schools out of 1,200. The majority of the schools in the country are able either to achieve good academic results or provide an exceptionally good atmosphere while the students’ achievements are tragic. Only these gymnasia were able to combine both things:
“1. The Vilnius Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium;
“2. The Gabija Gymnasium in Vilnius;
“3. … [for a total of eight schools listed]”
The Lithuanian Jewish Community is so proud of the Sholem Aleichem Gymnasium! We know the tremendous achievements there are due to the diligent and sensitive leadership of Miša Jakobas and all the teachers who are so devoted and loving to the students. Great work!
Full text in Lithuanian available here.
A giant menorah has again appeared in the center of Vilnius in celebration of Hanukkah. City mayor Remigijus Šimašius and the Jewish community together ushered in the eight-day Jewish holiday on December 3. The menorah has appeared in central Vilnius for 25 years in a row now.
The mayor said: “The start of Hanukkah this year has coincided symbolically with the beginning of the magical Christmas of Vilnius, we are lighting the city’s main Christmas tree and the menorah at almost the same time. This holiday of sharing and light makes Vilnius brighter and cozier, and invites the communities of the world to come visit the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Hanukkah inspires us to never be afraid of fighting for what’s right and for the light, and to never give up. I greet the Jewish community on this the greatest of holidays and say thank-you that you are with us. Happy Hanukkah!” For four years now the mayor has been invited to light the first Hanukkah light at the giant menorah on Vincas Kudirka Square in Vilnius.
Sunday evening the Panevėžys Jewish Community celebrated the first day of Hanukkah. Members of the Community, guests and representatives of the city municipality gathered on Freedom Square where the celebration began with Jewish song and dance.
Rabbi Sholom Bar Krinsky and his family arrived to celebrate Hanukkah with the Panevėžys Jewish Community. This is a family holiday and it was delightful to see so many people in such a festive spirit on the square that cold winter evening. It truly was a wonderful mood and it was created by Rabbi Krinsky.
Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman told a correspondent from the newspaper Sekundė about the holiday and its significance for the Jewish people, adding this holiday is popular around the world wherever Jews live. Others celebrate it as well, people who are tolerant and respect Jewish tradition, he noted.
Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinksy welcomed everyone at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius and began the celebration in song.
“Hanukkah is the festival of light and freedom. Light means going from darkness into light, light also means we must understand and see the soul in every person. When Jews are united, this is the true light. If we are praised, that does not mean the light. I want to invite all Jews living in Lithuania to celebrate together. We should celebrate our wonderful holy days together. We are one people, and if want not just to talk but to spread light, we ourselves must be the light, we must be united,” Rabbi Krinsky said.
“It’s great so many children are attending the celebration. They are celebrating happily on the second floor of the synagogue, you can hear happy voices from up there. Today a klezmer group will perform,” Rabbi Krinsky said, noting men and women dance separately during Hanukkah. “Hanukkah reminds us of the Jews’ struggle for our traditions, against efforts to assimilate them. Lithuanian Jews maintain Orthodox traditions with their families.”
Heart-felt greetings to the Jews of Lithuania on Hanukkah, the hope-filled holiday of lights. I wish you all good health, happiness and concord and warmth at home. For our community, I wish our plans for broad activities are fulfilled, plans which are supported by Lithuanian state institutions and municipalities, and which are therefore an important and ambitious contribution by the Jewish community demonstrating that we are here and we are telling the truth and more about the life, history, culture and activities of the Jewish community. Thank you for your good work, for your support and for your warm smiles. We, together, should solve all those complex questions which come up in our work.
Latkes are potato pancakes which Jews consider a national dish, as do Lithuanians, Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Germans, Czechs and the Swiss. The first mention of the potato dish seems to come from 1830 and seems to have been German cuisine. although the word itself comes into Yiddish probably from Russian. Whatever the case, Jews made latkes global and it is a required part of the Hanukkah table now.
Some sources say latkes were originally made of buckwheat. Others put their origins in Italy where pancakes were served with ricotta cheese. Rabbi Kalonymus ben Kalonymus (1286-1328) seems to be the first person to associate pancakes with Hanukkah, in a poem about the holiday.
When Spain expelled the Jews of Sicily in 1492, they took their ricotta cheese pancakes with them and introduced them to the Jews in the northern Italian lands. These pancakes reportedly were called cassola in Rome.
Lithuanian Jews send their congratulations on the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the Lithuanian military. This is also a holiday for Jews. We remember and are proud of the Lithuanian Jewish volunteer soldiers, the participants in the battles for Lithuanian freedom in 1919 and 1920. We honor the civic-mindedness and patriotism of the Jewish soldiers and their devotion and service to Lithuania. Through their blood and at the cost of their lives they proved the Jewish community had decided resolutely with Lithuanians to established the democratic Republic of Lithuania and to defend bravely their country.
Happy 100th anniversary!
As families across the country gather to give thanks–for those we love, for the freedoms we cherish, for our shared heritage–I hope we’ll take a moment to consider those in need and those who cannot be with their families on this special day, particularly our brave men and women in uniform stationed around the world.
With the many challenges we face today, the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad remains strong and steadfast in our commitment to preserving the past. It has never been more important to understand our history, to find common ground through our diverse stories, and to appreciate the profound privilege of being an American.
As you spend time with your family this Thanksgiving, I urge you to take the first step toward preserving our history: tell your family’s story, where you came from and how you arrived where you are now. Give your children the gift of understanding where they come from, and on this and every Thanksgiving into the future, I have no doubt they’ll thank you for it.
From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.
U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
633 3rd Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
The Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community wishes Ieva Rafael a happy birthday. We wish you great health, endless energy and all the best. Mazl tov!
The Panevėžys Jewish Community would like to wish a happy birthday to members who recently celebrated birthdays, and held a common birthday party at the Community for Roma Marijampolskienė, Liudmila Grafman, Arnoldas Urbonas, Vidmantas Markevičius, Liudmila Šteimanienė, Leonardas Šteimanas, Rolandas Paltinas, Michailas Grafmanas, Janina Solovjova, Mantė Rimkutė and Aleksandras Košel. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman addressed the party and wished everyone energy, health, tenacity, good emotions, many friends and a long life. He also presented the celebrants flowers and birthday cards.
The Kaunas Jewish Community celebrated the 30th anniversary of its restoration with the concert “From Mendelssohn to Latėnas” October 22. Members of the Kaunas Jewish Community, city society and cultural figures attended the elegant event reminiscent of Kaunas in the period between the two world wars.
Speaker of the Lithuanian parliament Viktoras Pranckietis greeted the audience and the Community.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community is proud of the achievements by the Kaunas Jewish Community and thanks chairman Gercas Žakas for his efforts in rallying and uniting the Jews of Lithuania’s provisional capital, for his sincere and ceaseless concern for the needs of members and Righteous Gentiles, for popularizing athletics and reviving Yiddish culture.
We are so proud of you and wish you many more such anniversaries! Mazl tov!
The Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year 5779. Cilė Gleizer reminded the audience of the meaning and traditions of the holiday. Frida Šteinienė lit the candles and said a prayer to kick off the celebration. Community chairman Naum Gleizer greeted members and wished everyone a good, healthy and sweet new year. He delivered greetings from the Panevėžys Jewish Community and from former residents of Šiauliai now resident in Israel.
The holiday table contained the tradition dishes–challa, apples and honey, pomegranates and gefilte fish, the latter prepared by Maja Burštein. The traditional treats of teiglakh, imberlakh, apple pie and other sweets were made by Frida Šteinienė, Irina Pres and Cilė Gleizer.
Vadim Kamrazer and his daughter Sofija performed live Jewish music and song. The celebration was much enjoyed by young and old alike. Everyone received the new calendar for 5779.
Members of the Panevėžys Jewish Community celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, on September 9 at the Parko street restaurant. The event began with the lighting of candles, the blessing was read and good wishes were made to friends and relatives. Michailas Grafmanas blew the shofar horn to usher in the new year 5779. Community chairman Gennady Kofman read the prayer of repentance and hope and Community members greeted one another with the wish God would author them a good coming year.
Guests included city council member A. Petrauskas and the history teacher V. Jakonis from Biržai, Lithuania.
The holiday table included challa, pomegranates, apples and honey. Fish was also served along with other traditional Jewish dishes. The celebration included songs and poetry by children who were rewarded for their work. There was also dancing and different games.