Learning, History, Culture

Rudashevski Vilnius Ghetto Diary Presentation March 27

The literary monument of a fifteen-year-old chronicler of the Jewish ghetto to the suffering of the Holocaust, Yiddish culture, the will to survive and hope. For those who haven’t yet had a chance to learn about the Vilnius ghetto diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski, we invite you to come to the Lithuanian Jewish Community at 6:00 P.M. on March 27, 2018, for a public books launch. Participants: LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, translator Dr. Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, designer Sigutė Chlebinskaitė, Holocaust historian Neringa Latvytė-Gustatienė. Dr. Lara Lempert will serve as moderator.

Zionist Political Aspirations

Sionistų politiniai lūkesčiai
Photo: Students and reporters from Lithuania at the 17th World Zionist Congress, Berlin, 1931

The LJC webpage is publishing a series of articles by Dr. Eglė Bendikaitė called “Zionist Priorities in the Struggle for Lite (1916-1918)” dedicated to marking the 100th anniversary of union of Zionist organizations in Lithuania. The first part was published here February 15 here.

The World Zionist Organization was established at the August, 1897, meeting of the First World Zionist Congress in Basel. Lithuanian Zionism disappeared as a subject of inquiry along with the Lithuanian Jewish community slaughtered in the Holocaust. Following Lithuanian independence more scholarly attention is being paid to the movement.

The word Zionism comes from Mount Zion, where the original Temple was built in Jerusalem. Early in Jewish history it came to serve as a synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. As a symbol of the desire to return to the Promised Land, it was an element of Jewish prayers for centuries. It was only towards the end of the 19th century it acquired a political meaning and began to stand for a social movement whose goal was to create a political home for the Jewish people in their historical homeland, in other words, to reestablish a Jewish state.

“Returns” Music Festival

The Lithuanian Musicians Support Fund in cooperation with the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Goodwill Foundation present the 20th annual international music festival Returns at 6:00 P.M., March 29, 2018, on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius.

Musica Camerata Baltica, with Leonidas Melnikas on piano, Boris Traub on violin and Valentinas Kaplūnas on cello, will perform along with cantor Shmuel Yatom.

Admission is free.

For more information call 8 655 25898 or 261 3171, or see www.lmrf.lt

Makabi Swimming Competition in Kaunas

LSK “Makabi” plaukimo varžybos Kaune

The best swimming pool in Lithuania, the one at the sports and recreational facility Girstutis in Kaunas, hosted a swimming competition by the Makabi athletics club on March 18 with swimmers from Vilnius, Kaunas, Panevėžys and–for the first time–Šalčininkai, as well as Israeli foreign exchange students studying in Kaunas. Some swimmers from Vilnius were unable to attend because they were competing in the Lithuanian swimming championships at the same time. Male and female swimmers in five age-groups competed in 25-meter freestyle and 50-meter breast-stroke categories.


Edmundas Ruvinas Zeligmanas passed away March 22. He was born February 25, 1931. He was a member of the Vilnius Jewish Community and the Union of Concentration Camp and Ghetto Prisoners. Our deepest condolences to his widow Janina, his daughter and all his many friends and family.

Zeligmanas was the sole survivor of the mass murder of the Jews of Šilalė. He was 10 when war broke out in Lithuania. He came from a religious family; his father was a cantor and studied at the Telzh yeshiva. Zeligmanas attended a religious school at the synagogue as a child. After losing his entire family in the Holocaust, he went on to study physics, taught physics, worked as an engineer at a counting machine factory and taught electronics at the Construction Technicum. He lived to have great-grandchildren. A frequent face at the synagogue in Vilnius while his health allowed, he was a regular member of the minyan there. May he rest in peace.


A ceremony to unveil a memorial plaque commemorating German Jews sent to the Ninth Fort in Lithuania and murdered on November 25, 1941, will be held at 11:30 A.M. on April 13, 2018, at the Ninth Fort Memorial Complex, Žemaičių highway no. 75, Kaunas. You are invited.

Legendary Jewish-German Silent Film Set to Music at Lithuanian National Philharmonic

A restored copy of Ewald André Dupont’s 1923 film “Das alte Gesetz” (The Ancient Law) is to be shown at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic in Vilnius at 7:00 P.M. on March 28, 2018, accompanied by the modern music of Philippe Schoeller, performed by the Orchester Jakobsplatz München orchestra conducted by Daniel Grossman.

The film was a sensation at the 68th Berlin Film Festival when it was set to French composer Philippe Schoeller’s music. The restored film premiered at the Friedrichsstadt-Palast theater in Berlin on February 16, 2018.

The film is on tour around Eastern Europe with the first stop after Berlin in Vilnius. It will be screened in Budapest, Warsaw, Vienna, Munich and then San Francisco after that.

The Ancient Law is considered an important historical German and Jewish cinematic production recreating the introverted world of the Eastern European shtetl contrasted with Vienna of the 1860s and speaks to Jewish assimilation in Europe in the 1800s.

Jewish Kindergarten Being Established in Vilnius

One of the goals the Lithuanian Jewish Community has set for itself is the establishment of a modern Jewish kindergarten meeting the highest international standards in the Žvėrynas neighborhood of Vilnius next to the existing Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium.

LJC Shalom preschool director Ruth Reches, a clinical psychologist working on her doctorate and a Hebrew teacher, is helping plan the future Jewish kindergarten. She said the need for this type of preschool has been long-standing but a number of obstacles have hindered its creation, not least the lack of financing.

“The parents of children of other ethnicities have the opportunity to choose a Lithuanian, Russian or Polish kindergarten. There is no kindergarten meeting the needs of people of Jewish ethnicity. There is no kindergarten where children from an early age have the opportunity to learn Jewish traditions and culture, to celebrate Jewish holidays. At the SHolem Aleichem ORT Gymnasium children are able to grow up in a Jewish environment, to celebrate Jewish values, but it would make sense to begin teaching them earlier, at preschool age,” she said.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Dr. Esperanto Exhibit Opens in Panevėžys

A ceremony to open an exhibit about Ludovik Zamenhof, the medical doctor who invented the language Esparanto, was attended by a number of people including Polish Institute deputy director and Polish embassy chief advisor Pavel Krupka, and bishop emeritus Jonas Kauneckas. Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman also attended the ceremony. The exhibit will run till April 15.

Senator Durbin Visits Exhibit “One Century out of Seven: Lithuania, Lite, Lita”

The mobile exhibit “One Century of Seven: Lithuania, Lite, Lita” created by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and the Lithuanian Jewish Community has gone on display at the Chicago Culture Center. The ceremony held jointly by YIVO and the Lithuanian consulate in Chicago honored senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) for his efforts including the return of Torah scrolls and YIVO archives. Durbin is the most influential Lithuanian-American in American politics. His mother Anna Kutkin aka Ona Kutkaitė hailed from Jurbarkas.

The exhibit illustrates the history of the Jews of Lithuania from their arrival in the Lithuanian Grand Duchy in the 13th century until today. Creators of the exhibit Pranas Morkus and the designer Victoria Sideraitė-Alon were able to show exceptional details in Jewish relations with local inhabitants of other ethnicities and to showcase important Litvaks.

Many Litvaks live in America and many visited the exhibit.

Sabbath Celebration

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites you to a Sabbath celebration with Righteous Gentile Ona Landsbergienė’s great-grandson Gabrielius Landsbergis. LJC executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas will moderate.

The Sabbath ceremony will be held on the second floor of the LJC at 6:30 P.M. on Friday, March 23. The number of seats is limited and registration is required. Call 8 678 81514

Lithuanian Public Television Begins Righteous Gentiles Series

Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT has begun airing a series called “Righteous Gentiles,” presenting the stories of Lithuanians who rescued Jews from the Holocaust. Almost a thousand Lithuanians have now been officially recognized as Righteous Gentiles, per capita the largest percentage in any country. According to the national television broadcaster’s site, the series will tell hitherto unknown stories of Lithuanian heroism during the Holocaust.

Video and more information in Lithuanian available here and here.

Academic Ethics Ombudsman Fired for Anti-Semitism

Virgilius Sadauskas has been fired at academic ethnics ombudsman.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community welcomes this win for common sense and is grateful to the 29 MPs from the Liberal, Conservative, Social Democratic and Peasants factions for initiating a vote of confidence in Sadauskas.

The LJC feels the actions by this public servant, offering a monetary reward for collecting information “about people of Jewish ethnicity who contributed to deportations and torture,” incited ethnic discord and fall under the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the European Parliament on July 1, 2017.

We hope this decision becomes an example of best practices in the continuing fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred in our country at the national and community level.

In a secret poll, 77 MPs voted in favor of firing Sadauskas, 17 voted against and 13 abstained. Three ballots were ruined.

Abba Kovner’s 100th Birthday

Loss and renewal, the lot of victim and resistance, extermination and rebirth: these are the themes the writer Abba Kovner (1918-1987) wrote about from his own experience.

The first biography of the poet and partisan leader written by Dina Porat won the National Jewish Book Award for explaining history and bringing it to life.

Kovner was born in Oshmyani on March 14, 1918, a Lithuanian town in Belarus about 50 kilometers from Vilnius. After making aliyah to Israel following the war, he was often presented as a poet and prose writer, but Litvaks remember Kovner as a partisan leader who went on to help found the modern state of Israel.

In 1927 his parents moved the family to Vilnius and Kovner attended the Tarbut Gymansium. This building now houses the Lithuanian Jewish Community. He received a Jewish education there, including Hebrew and exposure to modern literature, and began to write poetry while in high school. In 1939 he was admitted as an auditor of classes at the Arts Faculty of Vilnius University. He engaged in illegal Zionist activities during the Soviet occupation of 1940. He became leader of the Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair Zionist youth movement.

Plaque Commemorating Abba Kovner Unveiled at LJC

To mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet and Jewish partisan Abba Kovner, the Lithuanian Jewish Community March 14 unveiled a memorial plaque in his honor. The LJC is housed in the same building where Kovner attended high school until 1935, the former Tarbut Hebrew Gymnasium. The ceremony was attended by chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, fellow Jewish partisan Fania Brancovskaja and Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon, among others. Brancovskaja told the small gathering her memories of the Jewish leader.

A Year of the Jews without Jews?

Position of the Lithuanian Jewish Community
March 13, 2018

Today the parliament of the Republic of Lithuania is scheduled to consider announcing 2019 the Year of the Jews. What the Lithuanian Jewish Community thinks about this is apparently of interest only to members of the media, not the initiators of the Year of the Jews measure.

The writers of the measure have not consulted with the LJC, the largest Jewish organization in Lithuania, at any stage of their initiative, which compels us to question the contents of the proposed resolution and its sincerity. The laconic legislation contains nothing that doesn’t happen every other year, except for, one supposes, allocation of funding for a special commission or commissions. We hope if the measure is adopted it won’t turn into the formation of yet another commission which takes students on Holocaust “excursions” through mass graves during Sabbath.

With no prospect of learning the plans and intentions of the authors of the idea first-hand, this strange initiative looks like some sort of atavism of former times, as when Thursdays were fish day. On other days the people were not provided fish, but on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Lithuania, is the issue of Jews really so uncomfortable and uninteresting? A whole slew of important dates for Lithuania and the Lithuanian Jewish Community are yet to come this year, including the 30th anniversary of the reestablishment of the Community; the 100th anniversary of the unification of Lithuanian Zionists, who supported Lithuanian statehood; the 75th anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius ghetto and the 115th anniversary of the founding of what is now Vilnius’s only working synagogue. We therefore call upon the authors of this Year of the Jews to begin that year this year, to celebrate 100th anniversary of the modern Lithuanian state together with the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community esteems the progress of the state in solving issues topical for all of us, but political games using the Jews but not including the Jewish community are not an appropriate way to insure effective dialogue between ethnic Lithuanians and Jews.

Lithuanian Jewish Community

Pylimo g. 4
LT-01117 Vilnius
T:+370 5 261 3003

Passover, the Holiday of Liberation and Freedom

Passover Seder by Malcah Zeldis, © 2018

Natalja Cheifec invites you to attend her lecture on Passover in Russian at 6:00 P.M. on March 14 at the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Short synopsis:

-How the Jews were enslaved in Egypt
-How the Egyptians oppressed the Jews
-Moses, the leader of the Jewish people
-Why the Jews needed liberating
-How G_d punished the Egyptians, the 10 plagues
-Preparing for the Passover holiday: why yeast is avoided
-Celebrating Passover:

*four cups of wine
*required elements of the Passover table
*why leavened foods are not eaten or drunk on Passover

To register, see goo.gl/JbypwU

Chess Tournament

A chess tournament will be held to celebrate Lithuanian Independence Day at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, March 25, at the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Boris Rositsan, FIDE master, will be tourney director. For more information and to register, write to info@metbor.lt or call 8 655 43 556.