Learning, History, Culture

#MesPrisimename Campaign to Mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day

#MesPrisimename Campaign to Mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The annual commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day takes place on January 27, the day Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated, and this year will mark the 76th time the United Nations’ commemorative day has been marked.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community wants to use this day to teach young people about the Holocaust and to hold virtual meetings between young people and survivors.

The LJC invites you to join the #WeRemember campaign on social media, which is called #MesPrisimename in Lithuanian. You can make a sign or inscription with either variant and photograph yourself with it, then post it with these hashtags, and send it projects@lzb.lt before January 25.

Artist and Cartoonist Leizeris Kaganas

Artist and Cartoonist Leizeris Kaganas

by Polina Pailis on his 110th birthday for Septynios meno dienos newspaper

New trends in art appeared in Lithuania in the early 20th century based on new ideas and the search for new techniques for expression. Many cartoonists and caricaturists appeared in the press in the interwar period. The artist Leizeris Kaganas was especially prolific from 1931 to 1933.

Kaganas was born in 1910 and his place of birth is unknown. In 1929 he attended the Kaunas Art School but left after his first year. His off-the-cuff sketches and caricatures first appeared in the Kaunas newspapers in 1931. In the second half of that year he moved to Riga and competed in sketching contests there. In 1932 and 1933 he held exhibitions in Lithuania. In 1932 he was part of an exhibition in Stockholm. In 1939 and 1940 he lived and worked in Denmark. Kaganas’s fate following the German occupation of Denmark is unknown.

The first article about the young artist appeared in Lietuvos aidas newspaper on September 30, 1931, which said his talent had been noticed from the beginning.

History of the Jews of Šiauliai from the City’s First Industrialist to the Lincoln Penny

History of the Jews of Šiauliai from the City’s First Industrialist to the Lincoln Penny

Photo: 3-D miniature diorama of the Old Town of Šiauliai by Saulius Kruopis, late 19th or early 20th century. Photo by Karolina Savickytė

by Gabija Strumylaitė, 15min.lt

It’s impossible to tell the story of Šiauliai without the names of important Jews who come from there or lived there. One was the industrialist Chaim Frankel whose leather factory once employed a fifth of the city’s population. Victor David Brenner, the Litvak whose most famous work is the United States Lincoln penny still in circulation, put Šiauliai on the world map.

“Before World War I Jews were about 60 percent of the population of Šiauliai. In the period between the wars this figure dropped to 30 percent. There truly is a lot of Jewish heritage in Lithuania. We often stumble upon it and realize it only now. For instance, until my colleague Andrius Kvedaras, whom you will also meet today, nobody conducted exclusively Jewish tours of Šiauliai. It was just part of the general program,” Aušra Museum historian Milda Černiauskaitė said.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman on Importance of January 13 to Nation’s Jews

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman on Importance of January 13 to Nation’s Jews

Photo: Faina Kukliansky, by Vidmantas Balkūnas, courtesy 15min.lt

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky remembers January 13. Lithuanian Jews, who restored their community finally 30 years ago after decades of restrictions, took part in events in those days [in 1991] Nowadays when they talk about the struggle for freedom, members of the community emphasize the greatest gift: the opportunity to speak freely.

What do you remember personally about that fateful night at the TV tower, the Lithuanian Radio and Television building and the parliament? What does the Jewish community remember about these events?

Jews did the same thing as everyone else in Lithuania. We have collected the recollections of our community members of that fateful night. They watched the television broadcast until it was cut off and they went to the barricades, in Vilnius but also in Kaunas and other cities.

We were there where the majority of Lithuania was. I remember when I travelled from Varėna during that time and saw the road full of tanks. At that time I had an elderly guest from America who said he was seeing tanks for the first time in his life.

On that particular night my friends and I–all of us were together with our young children–followed events, held vigil, waiting for our husbands who were there in the crowd by the barricades or who were doing their job as doctors.

My children are now grown up and always remember that night and the tension. It wasn’t clear what would happen and the tanks were already in place in the city. We didn’t have any information, we had seen the final frame when E. Bučelytė had to quit the [television] studio. We learned that night from medics that there were dead and wounded people.

The Rebel from Žagarė Who Dared Criticize Stalin

The Rebel from Žagarė Who Dared Criticize Stalin

Facts worth knowing about the Litvak poet Osip Mandelshtam

by Rūta Ribinskaitė, LJC member, for 15min.lt

As we mark the 130th anniversary of Osip Mandelshtam, the Lithuanian Jewish Community is inviting the public to take a new look at one of the most renowned poets of the Silver Age of Russian poetry. We present to readers long-forgotten and little-known facts about the phenomenal poet Osip Mandelshtam.

Mandelshtam’s family on both his mother’s and father’s side came from Lithuania. The Mandelshtam family’s roots are in northern Lithuania in the town of Žagarė. There are assertions the family settled in the town in the early 19th century.

The poet’s mother Flora Mandelshtam née Verbolvskaya was a musician and his father Hatzkel-Emil Mandelshtam belong to the first guild of merchants and was a leather tanner. The young married couple lived in Warsaw where the future poet was born on January 15, 1891, and then moved to live in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1896 and 1897.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Hebrew Classes

Hebrew Classes

Hebrew classes resume at the Lithuanian Jewish Community January 17 and will take place on Sundays. Classes for beginners start at 11:15 A.M., 1:00 P.M. for advanced students and 2:45 P.M. for intermediate learners.

To register, send an email to ruthreches@gmail.com

LJC Celebrates Life and Work of Osip Mandelshtam on 130th Birthday

LJC Celebrates Life and Work of Osip Mandelshtam on 130th Birthday

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is inviting the public to learn more about one of the best poets of Russia’s Silver Age, Osip Mandelshtam.

Join the virtual day of poetry at 2:00 P.M. on January 15 on facebook by going to https://fb.me/e/1cV0KYzFo

Speakers and critics will present new insights and little known facts in Mandelshtam’s biography and poetry. The actors Viačeslavas Lukjanovas and Larisa Kalpokaitė will read excerpts in Russian and Viktorija Verikaitė will read Lithuanian translations of Mandelshtam’s poetry.

Ilan Club to Teach Sabbath History

Ilan Club to Teach Sabbath History

The Ilan Club and the Lithuanian Jewish Community are inviting children to come together and celebrate the Sabbath this January 15 at 5:00 P.M. on Zoom. We will read the history of the Sabbath together with the children. Please register by sending an email to sofja@lzb.lt or by calling +370 601 46656.

Primary School Students and Parents Invited to Emotional Literacy Workshop

Primary School Students and Parents Invited to Emotional Literacy Workshop

Primary school students and their parents are invited to attend an emotional literacy workshop at 1:30 P.M. on Sunday, January 17. This time we’ll use reading therapy which connects literature with psychology to talk about self-confidence, fun and boredom. Parents are also invited to spend quality time together and to get to know one another better. The workshop will be held on Zoom. Please register by sending an email to sofja@lzb.lt or by calling *370 601 46656.

#AtmintisGyvaNesLiudija

The Lithuanian Jewish Community placed a candle in the window of our headquarters on the morning of January 13 to remember the defenders of freedom. #AtmintisGyvaNesLiudija

#PiešiuLaisvę

#PiešiuLaisvę

On the eve of January 13 the Lithuanian Jewish Community invited children and young people to draw a forget-me-not flower to commemorate those who defended Lithuanian freedom and insured the independence of the state. Thank you to the Kaunas Jewish Community, the Panevėžys Jewish Community, the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, the Vilnius Jerusalem of Lithuania Jewish Community, the Klaipėda Jewish Community and especially to the children: Bernardas, Ariana, Vincas, Danielius, Kajas, Luiza, Daniel, Tėja, Sofija, Luisa, Emilis, Anita, Polina, Augustinas, Eliza, little Beatryčė, Diana, Zoja, Adomas, Arnas, Sonia, Natanas, Liuka, Diana, Vladikas, Zlata, Nikolė, Marija, Nora, Dovas, Meira, Liza, Markas and all the rest.

Here are some of the drawings we received.

Our Freedom We Won Back Thirty Years Ago on January 13

Our Freedom We Won Back Thirty Years Ago on January 13

Tanks next to Lithuanian Radio and Television. Photo: P. Lileikis

Aleksandra Jacovskytė, scenographer, photographer, graphic artist

Šura Jacovskytė remembers those days in January of 1991. She lived in the center of Vilnius and her friends used to gather at her apartment during those tense days and they watched events unfold together on LRT television.

“I saw and I still remember the final frames when Soviet soldiers broke into the television [studio], the image vanished and there was darkness… It was a horrible feeling,” Šura recalled. “I felt the same as everyone else did. I couldn’t believe the Soviet miasma would come back. The people of Lithuania were already different, they had got a taste of freedom, so it was impossible to go back. It was by then inconceivable to support the actions of the government of the Soviet Union, what they were getting up to, that was totally clear. Even a few months later, after the coup began, I told myself: ‘No, this cannot be…'”

Algirdas Malcas, director, Vilnius the Jerusalem of Lithuania Jewish Community

“I was at the parliament during those days. I walked every day from one site to another, and I had arrived with my dog. I used to go day and night, like a watchman’s rounds. I lived in the center so friends used to come to me to warm up. I was young then and the memories are unerasable.

Join the Civic Initiative to Celebrate the Restoration of Freedom

Join the Civic Initiative to Celebrate the Restoration of Freedom

The International Commission for Assessing the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania and Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda are inviting educational and state institutions, departments and agencies and all people of good will to remember the victorious struggle to win back freedom from the aggressors in January of 1991 and to join the civic initiative “Memory Lives Because It Testifies.”

Everyone is invited to remember and mark the 30th anniversary of the restoration of Freedom. At 8:00 A.M. on January 13, 2021, we will place lit candles together in our windows for 10 minutes to remember, unite and celebrate our victory.

In January, 1991, Lithuanian citizens, motivated by the aspiration to freedom and unity, achieved an historic victory. The nation withstood the aggression of the Soviet occupiers and local collaborators and the attempt to effect a coup d’etat through military force, and defended the independence of the restored state.

Drawing Contest to Mark January 13 Holiday

Drawing Contest to Mark January 13 Holiday

Dear leaders, members and friends of the Lithuanian Jewish Community,

As January 13th, Lithuania’s Day of the Defenders of Freedom, approaches we intend to mark the 30th anniversary of the blood events at the Vilnius Television Tower when Soviet troops killed unarmed civilian protestors.

On January 13, 1991, Soviet tanks and troops attempted to take over the television tower, the Radio and Television Committee headquarters and other sites in the capital of the breakaway Soviet republic.

The LJC invites children and young people to use the day to learn about this history and to don in solidarity with Lithuanians the forget-me-not flower symbol. Please draw your own forget-me-not and send in a high resolution photograph of the drawing or of you holding the drawing in your hand.

ORT Sends Condolences on the Death of Emil Kalo

ORT Sends Condolences on the Death of Emil Kalo

Tribute: Emil Kalo z”l
06.01.21

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Emil Kalo, former member of the World ORT Board of Trustees.

Dr. Kalo was the leading light of ORT Bulgaria and had chaired the organization since 2007.

An economist and doctor of philosophy, he was also a key figure in Sofia’s Jewish community and a former chairman of Shalom, the organization of Jews in Bulgaria.

Robert Singer, World ORT Board of Trustees chair, said: “Our dearest Emil was a wonderful person and a true friend. He was highly educated, an extraordinary professional, and was devoted to making the world a better place for the Jewish people. He wholeheartedly believed in education as the ultimate tool to achieving this.

“Emil was a true ORT-ist in his spirit: he immensely contributed to the success of ORT, including by building the ORT Sofia school together with the Lauder Foundation, achieving milestones that will touch upon current and future generations of Jewish students.

“We will deeply miss him, and he will remain forever with us in our hearts.”

Lithuanian Translation of Chaimas Kurickis’s Holocaust Memoirs Launched in Utena

Lithuanian Translation of Chaimas Kurickis’s Holocaust Memoirs Launched in Utena

Chaimas Kurickis was born in Utena, Lithuania, in 1921. He and his mother fled east as the German army approached in June of 1941. They were arrested, separated and imprisoned in Daugavpils, Latvia, his mother being sent to the ghetto and he to jail.

The hero of his book was also in the ghetto and several concentration camps, where he fought to survive right up till May 5, 1945, when Germany was defeated finally. Chaimas Kurickas set down his recollections and experiences along with several poems in a book called “To Survie and Tell the Tale,” translated to Lithuanian under the title “Išgyventi ir papasakoti” by Edmundas Kutka. The book has also been translated to Hebrew and Russian, and has caught the interest of Latvians who utilize it to talk about the tragic events of the Daugavpils ghetto, and Germans. The Lithuanian translation is expected to be of keen interest to Lithuanians and especially people from Utena who might be interested in the native author’s youth and experiences.

The launch of the Lithuanian translation of the book, published with aid from the Goodwill Foundation, included a panel of speakers, including tour guide and historian Chaim Bargman, Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum RIghteous Gentiles Department director Danutė Selčinskaja, teacher and historian Danguolė Jonaitienė who knew Kurickas from before the war, translator Tamara Jefremova and the translator of this book Edmundas Kutka.

The 20-year-old Utena native learned of the onset of war in his hometown. The rapid progress and unexpected moves of the German military forced him to adapt quickly to change. He and his mother and sisters were forced to flee, but the Kaunas-Daugavpils route was overcrowded with much military transport, Russian tanks and hundreds if not thousands of fleeing civilians, mainly Jews, trying to make their way towards Russia.

Lithuania and Israel: A History Connecting the Future

Lithuania and Israel: A History Connecting the Future

by Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and Israeli foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi, DELFI.lt

“The purpose of redemption is to protect the truth,” the Vilna Gaon said. One of the most renowned scholars and exegetes of the Torah and the Talmud, the Vilna Gaon held great influence through his works on the religious and cultural identity of Litvaks. The Lithuanian parliament declared 2020, the 300th anniversary of his birth, the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak history.

The year 2020 was dedicated to the extraordinarily rich, continuing 700-year history of Jews in Lithuania. The unique Lithuanian shtetlakh gave birth to many religious authorities and sages, and also to Jewish artists of world renown. The painter Marc Chagal bloomed under Lithuanian skies. Memories of Lithuania live in contemporary author Grigoriy Kanovitch’s work. The land inspired Emmanuel Levinas to ponder the secrets of existence and provided the nostalgic ring to Lea Goldberg’s poems. When we talk about the exceptional history of the Jews of Lithuania, we also remember the horrific tragedy of the Holocaust. All of us must pledge never to forget what happened, and to judge honestly and objectively our shared past, no matter how painful it might be.

Paideia, the European Institute for Jewish Studies’ Open Recruitment Process

Paideia, the European Institute for Jewish Studies’ Open Recruitment Process

Dear Friends,

I hope you are well.

We’re looking for brighter days in the feature and with this hope we’re opening the recruitment process for the Paideia One-Year Jewish Studies Program 2021-2022.

The program is dedicated to future educators, activists and leaders wanting to broaden their knowledge of Jewish culture and history and to establish a net of connection with over 700 of our graduates.