Mother’s Day was on Sunday, May 3, in Lithuania. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers. You make the world possible.
As spring finally arrives, the Kaunas Jewish Community sends birthday greetings to our beloved member Liuba Stulgaitienė.
Liuba is very active in Community events, a member of the Yiddish Club, a member of the Union of Former Ghetto and Concentration Camp Prisoners and a woman who always radiates positivity, optimism and joy. She smiles at the whole world despite all injuries experienced and the world answers her the same way.
Dear Liuba, keep being so young at heart, so energetic, so thirsty for knowledge and someone who is able to say the years are not a burden, but a rich experience.
Mazl tov! May you live to 120!
Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky was interviewed by Lithuanian publicist Donatas Puslys on Yom haAtzma’ut, Israeli independence day, and spoke about what the holiday means to Jews in Lithuania, to her personally and to Jews around the world. She also spoke about the Holocaust, Litvaks living in Israel, the promise Eretz Israel held out to Soviet Jews and the country’s progress over the last 72 years. The interview was conducted in Lithuanian but concludes with warm wishes in Yiddish.
Israelis began celebrating 72 years of statehood this year by greeting medical personnel. A torch-lighting ceremony began without an audience in honor of Israel’s doctors, nurses, care-givers, hospital staff and volunteers who have been fighting the Wuhan virus, with many fireworks displays and hospital fly-overs by the Israeli Air Force canceled.
Most Israelis marked Independence Day at home.
Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the nation in a video saying “We’ve never celebrated this kind of Independence Day. We are in a physical sense far from one another, but we’ve never been closer.” Praising hospital workers Netanyahu added “The day will come when embraces return… But we still can’t do this because the pandemic is still here.”
Knesset speaker Benny Gantz lit a torch on the eve of Independence Day and spoke of national unity, saying Israelis must prepare for even more difficult days, and called for creating “a new moral face of the country.”
Dear Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Mrs. Faina Kukliansky, dear Lithuanian Jewish Community,
We mark the 300th anniversary of that most exalted Litvak, Eliyahu ben Solomon Zalman, the Vilna Gaon. The parliament of the Republic of Lithuania named this year, 2020, the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History, to stress the priceless contribution the Jewish community, an inseparable part of our society for 700 years now, has made to Lithuania’s history, culture, learning and consolidation of statehood through your adherence to tradition and social activity.
In all times there have been people who do not conform to the canons of their era, who through their creativity and unconventional thinking have changed the world. The Jewish people have given so much to the world. One of them, the Gaon or Genius of Vilna, Eliyahu ben Solomon Zalman, was a scholar of Jewish texts and law and a Talmud interpreter and scholar. This was a brave challenge during his times but, happily, Eliyahu grew up in an intellectual environment and was supported by his family and appreciated by the community. Rumors about the young sage and his intellect spread far beyond the limits of Vilnius. The Vilna Gaon became the most renowned religious authority and he changed people’s life paths, thought and the concept of Litvak, and turned Vilnius into a Jewish spiritual center, the Jerusalem of Lithuania. This is a priceless historical, cultural and philosophical legacy of the Jews and Lithuanians of Vilnius and Lithuania and of the other peoples who live in Lithuania.
The Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History is a great opportunity for all of us today, in the words of the Gaon, “to see with our own eyes, hear with our own ears and feel with our entire heart” what significant and rich heritage we have in creating the Lithuania of our future. Congratulations!
Gediminas Kirkilas, deputy speaker, chairman of the European Affairs Committee
April 24, 2020
The Jewish Confederation of Ukraine sincerely congratulates you on the 300th anniversary of the Vilna Gaon who is a symbol of wisdom and spirituality for Jews around the world.
The memory of the great leader of the best Jewish traditions and laws stands beyond the constraints of time and brings together generations of Jews.
May the brilliant heritage of the Vilnius Gaon help the Lithuanian Jewish Community to successfully develop and increase the traditions embodied in his philosophical teaching.
Jewish Confederation of Ukraine
April 23 was the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Vilna Gaon, the outstanding Torah-Talmud scholar from Vilnius in the 18th century. Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda and Israeli president Reuven Rivlin called each other to offer congratulations on the occasion.
The Lithuanian president expressed respect for the Vilna Gaon, the Rabbi Eliyahu ben Soiomon Zalman, who put Vilnius on the map as a center for Torah learning. He told the Israeli president the year 2020 had been declared the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History in Lithuania to honor the Gaon’s bright memory.
“The intellect and erudition of the Vilna Gaon made Vilnius the spiritual center of Jews in Europe, famous throughout the world. It was thanks to him that Vilnius appeared on the world map as the capital of Torah-Talmud scholarship and became the religious center of Judaism. The Gaon’s teaching, based on thoroughness, patience and dedication to revealing spiritual power and to seeking wisdom, is an inspiration in difficult times,” the Lithuanian president said.
President Nausėda emphasized Lithuania remains the home of the large Litvak community spread throughout the world. The Lithuanian Jewish Community maintains active ties with Litvaks living in Israel, the USA, South Africa, France and elsewhere, Nausėda noted.
The two presidents also discussed the health situation in their two countries and measures for restoring economic life. They agreed this time full of challenges the world faces demands special attention to international relations and solidarity between the nations.
At the end of their conversation the Lithuanian president greeted Israel on the 72nd anniversary of statehood and invited the Israeli president to visit Lithuania.
Information from the President’s Communication Group
From Noir Press:
April 22, 2020
Lithuanian author wins €20,000 Literature Prize from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
The UK publishing house Noir Press is delighted Lithuanian Jewish author Grigory Kanovich has just won the €20,000 EBRD Literature Prize, a prestigious award celebrating literature in translation.
The prize, normally awarded at Bank headquarters in London, was awarded virtually this year because of the quarantine announced by the UK Government. The award was announced on Twitter on April 22.
Rosie Goldsmith, chairwoman of the panel of judges for this year’s prize, said the winning novel “is sincere, it is warm, it is generous. It has the feeling of a very great classic.”
Dear friends and colleagues,
On the occasion of Yom HaShoah, let me share with you the joint statement by the Ambassador of the European Union to the State of Israel and the Ambassadors of all European Union member states represented in Israel:
“The Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the State of Israel, together with the 26 Embassies of EU Member States present in Israel, remember and pay tribute to the six million Jews who were murdered, on European soil, more than seven decades ago.
We join Jewish communities worldwide in commemorating the individual lives that were lost in the unimaginable tragedy of the Shoah, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters; in cherishing the survivors among us so that their experiences are not forgotten. As Shimon Peres has said: “We are their eyes that remember. We are their voice that cries out.”
On behalf of the European Commission, we wish you all a happy Passover.
The message of hope going out from it could not be more relevant in these challenging times and are inspiration to us all.
Please find below a video message by Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish life.
Chag Pesah sameah!
Office of the EC Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish life
Directorate-General for Justice
I want to wish all of you and yours a peaceful and health-filled Pesach. May we all succeed in adapting to the pandemic crisis sufficiently to have meaningful Seders, in many (most) cases connecting remotely to family members who should have been sitting with us.
In advance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, I also want to share with you a video that the World Jewish Congress produced, in cooperation with the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Associations, (WFBBA) about the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, the Belsen Displaced Persons camp, and the more than 2,000 children born in the DP camp’s Glyn Hughes Hospital:
I hope that the example of the survivors’ resilience, determination and optimism as they emerged from the horrors of the Holocaust will inspire us at this difficult and anxious time. Please feel free to share the video widely.
I am also pleased to share with you a second video, also produced by the WJC together with the WFBBA, based on the beautiful photography of Debbie Morag featuring daughters of Auschwitz survivors:
Again, I wish you and yours a peaceful, health-filled Pesach.
With all warm regards,
Menachem Z. Rosensaft (born 1948 in Bergen-Belsen, Germany) an attorney in New York and the Founding Chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Survivors, is a leader of the Second Generation movement of children of survivors, and has been described on the front page of the New York Times as one of the most prominent of the survivors’ sons and daughters.
Dear Community members,
So Passover, the holiday eagerly awaited by Jews around the world, has come.
The seder night is so important to Jews, when we eat matzo, meditate and remember G_d’s revelation during the flight from Egypt. We do this year after year. This is what our fathers and forefathers have done, and we do it, and we teach it to our children.
This year the seder won’t be so large, not all family members are able to come to the table, not here in the Diaspora and not in our historical homeland Eretz Israel.
This has happened to Jews many times before–slavery, the Inquisition, wars and other misfortunes have separated families so many times before, leaving some of us alone, turning some of us into outsiders. This year we celebrate Passover during a time which is difficult not just for Jews.
Nonetheless, let’s try. Let’s remember and tell in our thoughts the story of the exodus from Egypt. Let’s pose the questions to ourselves and find the correct answers. Let’s remember at least a few of the 248 mitzvot, let’s believe in miracles if only briefly, and in the arrival of the Messiah.
Let’s believe, let’s dream, let’s think and let’s thank the Most High that we are alive and spring has come, and let’s give thanks for every day lived and believe in the future.
Next year will be better. We just have to believe it.
A happy holiday to all, be free and be happy.
Despite the complicated time in the world, the dates assigned by the Torah to the holidays don’t change and they are part of the history and story of the Jewish people. Passover is one of the main Jewish holy days. Over the days of Passover Jews remember their historic liberation from slavery.
During these difficult days I wish you patience, the love of those around you and endurance. Maintain hygienic requirements and adhere to the safety measures as we fight the corona virus.
Gennady Kofman, chairman
Panevėžys Jewish Community
by Ruth Reches, acting principal, Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium
On March 18 the ORT, an extremely important global Jewish cultural organization, celebrated its birthday. Happy birthday!
ORT is the acronym for Общество ремесленного и земледельческого трудаm, the association of crafts, trades and agriculture founded 140 years ago in 1880. ORT’s goal was to provide Jews work skills and information. In its first decades schools started by the ORT organization graduated tens of thousands of Jews who went on to work as tailors, farmers, mechanics, glass-blowers, furniture makers and similar.