Learning, History, Culture

Israeli Street Food and Cultural Oasis Returns to Vilnius

Israeli Street Food and Cultural Oasis Returns to Vilnius

“Cvi in the Park” is once again welcoming the citizens of Vilnius and city’s guests! The project was set up during the corona virus pandemic in order to continue the operation of the famous Bagel Shop Café under strict government-imposed restrictions. This is how the new open-air café “Cvi in the Park” was born, which is now reopening for the summer season.

The word “cvi” or “tzvi” itself means “doe” in Hebrew and given the divisive history of the square and the surrounding atmosphere of the park, it was decided to accommodate this “doe” in Cvirka Square, for the sake of dialogue and tolerance. We hope that this revived summer tradition will give a fresh face to this old square in front of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. We are ready to be a reliable partner to the Vilnius city municipality in the creation and development of a distinctive, sustainable identity for Cvirka Square.

At “Cvi in the Park” we offer healthy Israeli street food such as falafels, hummus, pita, etc., together with fresh vegetables grown locally and a unique blend of Middle Eastern spices and chickpeas. The menu is vegan-friendly and all organic ingredients are carefully selected based on seasonality. We hope our visitors will also enjoy the new and unique flavors of plant-based food. We are very happy to be cooperating with the craft beer experts Genys Brewing and true wine lovers New Skanu.

Happy Birthday to Fania Brantsovskaya

Happy Birthday to Fania Brantsovskaya

We wish a very happy milestone birthday next week to Vilnius ghetto survivor and Jewish partisan Fania Brantsovskaya.

You were about to begin university when the Germans invaded on June 22, 1941. When they ordered your family into the Vilnius ghetto, you crossed the street, Pylimo, to the Jewish Hospital section of the ghetto between Pylimo and Ligoninės streets. You joined the FPO, carried out sabotage missions against the Lithuanian Nazis, fought in the forests and marched into Vilnius with the Red Army when the Soviets liberated the Lithuanian capital. Although the fascists murdered your entire family, you stayed in the country and continued fight for a better future. After your husband passed away, you devoted yourself to telling the truth to the younger generations about the Holocaust and how Jews didn’t go like lambs to the slaughter, but fought tooth and nail, and prevailed against their oppressors.

We salute your bravery, your decision to fight and the life you devoted to telling the truth and serving humanity in your native land.

Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Saul Kagan: Litvak, Conscience of the Claims Conference and Warrior on the Invisible Front

Saul Kagan: Litvak, Conscience of the Claims Conference and Warrior on the Invisible Front

Saul Kagan, who fled Lithuania, spent decades leading the Jewish welfare organization which was primarily responsible for restitution worth more than $70 billion to Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

Saul Kagan came the to the USA in 1940 after losing his mother and brother to the barbarity of the Nazis. In 1951 he became the director of World Jewish Congress responsible for material claims by Jews against Germany. B’nai B’rith and other Jewish organizations brought an unprecedented claim, demanding reparations from “the heirs of the state of the Third Reich,” meaning West Germany, for the Nazi genocide against the Jews of Europe.

Kagan’s agreements signed over the following fifty years demanded the governments of West Germany and Austria and a falange of fascist corporations compensate people who survived the Holocaust for the houses, homes, buildings, furniture, art and other property seized from them during the Nazi era. They also demanded the payment of pensions, stipends and aid to the elderly they otherwise would have had if they hadn’t been persecuted instead, as well as compensation for hundreds of thousands of Nazi prisoners, Jews and non-Jews, used as slave labor by Germany’s industrial giants, corporations such as IG Farben and Krupp.

Plaque Commemorating Dr. Isaac Levitan to Be Unveiled in Kaunas May 19

Plaque Commemorating Dr. Isaac Levitan to Be Unveiled in Kaunas May 19

The Kaunas Jewish Community invites you to the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Dr. Isaac Levitan, the “angel in a white lab coat,” at 3:00 P.M. on May 19 at the doctor’s former address, Miško street no. 27 in Kaunas.

This is where Levitan set up his first private clinic in 1926. It quickly became known as Dr. Levitan’s Women’s Clinic. Amazingly, the building has stood unchanged since that time. It now houses the Christian Healing House which has delivered a large number of babies over several generations in Kaunas.

The doctor’s family didn’t fare as well during World War II. His son (also a doctor and gynecologist) and daughter-in-law were murdered in the Kaunas ghetto. Levitan, Sr., and his wife were deported by the Soviets twice. He died in exile in Krasnoyarsk oblast in 1956. His grandson Uri after many journeys finally ended up in Israel, thanks to fearless people.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community Invites You to the 5th World Litvak Congress

The Lithuanian Jewish Community Invites You to the 5th World Litvak Congress

The Fifth World Litvak Congress will be held on May 23-26, organized by the Lithuanian Jewish Community. We invite you to join the events and enjoy Litvak culture, heritage, history and music. Share the news with your relatives, friends and colleagues.

Pre-registration is required by filling out the following form:

https://forms.gle/VJa9nMHaHjH4t5Lf6

The program may be found here:

BUKLETAS_EN_1 (1)

>>PROGRAM in Lithuanian

Victory Day

Victory Day

Members of our Community met on sunny May 8 to mark the end of World War II, an end without which none of us would likely be alive.

Vandal Attacks Holocaust Monument near Darbėnai in Kretinga District

Vandal Attacks Holocaust Monument near Darbėnai in Kretinga District

A monument commemorating the mass murder of Jews has been vandalized near the town of Darbėnai in Lithuania’s Kretinga District.

A town resident noticed the vandalism while walking the in White Mountain Forest on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. The man reported the vandalism to the aldermanship after which the police were contacted about the incident.

The monument marked the site where about 320 Jewish women and children were shot to death in 1941. The site was recognized as a protected cultural heritage site with historical and commemorative values. Now the site contains a single stone marker, a broken stone plaque, vodka bottle shards and a swastika scratched on the commemorative stone.

Events Program for the Fifth World Litvak Congress in Vilnius

Events Program for the Fifth World Litvak Congress in Vilnius

The following is the program of events for the Fifth World Litvak Congress to be held in Vilnius from May 23 to May 26, 2022.

A PDF file of the program can be downloaded here.

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Events Program for the Fifth World Litvak Congress in Vilnius

May 23

Opening ceremony for the Fifth World Litvak Congress

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites Litvaks living around the world to return to Vilnius May 23 to May 26, to visit the land of our ancestors and to attend the Fifth World Litvak Congress.

Golda Vainberg-Tatz in Concert

Golda Vainberg-Tatz in Concert

The Vilnius Jerusalem of Lithuania Jewish Community presents a solo concert by the pianist Golda Vainberg-Tatz to be held at 6:30 on Thursday, May 12, on the third floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius. She will perform works by Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. The event is free and everyone is invited.

A Remarkable Event: Litvaks from around the World to Gather in Vilnius

A Remarkable Event: Litvaks from around the World to Gather in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is inviting Litvaks from around the world to come to Vilnius from May 23 to May 26, to visit the land of their ancestors and to take part in the Fifth World Litvak Congress. The four-day congress has a program which includes discussions, tours of historical sites and different cultural activities dedicated to Jewish heritage in Lithuania and achievements by Litvaks on the world stage.

Events include the opening at the Lithuanian parliament and a concert by American cantor and professor Joseph Malovany at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius in an evening of concerts called “A Date with Vilne” which will include Lithuanian musicians and actors paying homage to the memory of the Jews who lived and worked in Lithuania.

Lithuanian parliamentary speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen is the official patron of the Fifth World Litvak Congress. She said: “This Litvak Congress is happening while aggression is running wild in the Ukraine, when war fever has infected the entire region, which is significant to Lithuania historically and today, and to the entire world of Yiddish culture. In the face of blind brutality and violence it is always important to emphasize humanitarianism, empathy, the highest spiritual values from which the long Litvak tradition has always taken strength. This is especially urgent today when in the east of Europe an aggressive and imperialistic anti-Semitism has again raised its head, distorting historical facts and manipulating peoples’ emotions. We must oppose this.”

Film Getas Shown after Yom haShoah Ceremony

Film Getas Shown after Yom haShoah Ceremony

Following the commemoration of Holocaust victims at the Ponar Memorial Complex outside Vilnius on Yom haShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on April 28, a screening of Julius Dautartas’s film Getas [Ghetto] took place at the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

This feature film is based on true events. The location is the Vilnius ghetto set up by the Nazis. It tells the story of the ill-fated, illegal and completely unequal love between Austrian SS officer, amateur musician and true psychopath Bruno Kittel who was placed in charge of the Vilnius ghetto and later the Kaunas concentration camp, and Jewish songstress Khaya. It is claimed that the theater which was established in the Vilnius ghetto was the result of Kittel’s love for Khaya.

Hermann Kruk in his Vilnius ghetto chronicle records some of the consternation ghetto inmates felt about the creation of the new cultural institution in their place of torment. Kruk records the phrase “whistling in the graveyard,” meaning while mass murder was taking place, the people were distracted with the spectacle of plays and drama.

The idea overcame resistance, however, and the cultural life of the Vilnius ghetto became a force for resistance and ultimately survival.

Full interview with the director in Lithuanian here.

Condolences

Abramas Starobinas passed away May 8. He was born in 1935. Our deepest condolences to his fellow social center clients and family members.

New Lithuanian Play Introduces Holocaust to Children

New Lithuanian Play Introduces Holocaust to Children

A new play called Jokūbo dienoraštis [Jacob’s Diary] intended to introduce young audiences to the topic of the Holocaust premiered at the Kaunas State Puppet Theater Sunday evening, May 8, 2022.

What Remains When, after the War, Nothing Remains
lrytas.lt

“This is the story of the fate of a small town during World War II,” director Milda Mičiulytė said.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Mother of Basketball Statue Unveiled in Alytus

Mother of Basketball Statue Unveiled in Alytus

The public organization Cultural and Historical Memory Foundation in concert with the Alytus district administration and the Butrimonys aldermanship invited the public to attend the unveiling of a new monument to commemorate Senda Berenson Abbot-Valvroyensky, the Mother of Basketball.

Basketball legend Senda was born on March 19, 1868, in Butrimonys, Lithuania, and later immigrated to the USA, where she became the Mother of Basketball and the founder of the modern rules for the game, according to the International Museum of Jewish Athletes and the Women’s Basketball Museum.

As Lithuanian celebrates the 100th anniversary of basketball, this basketball legend born here, the Mother of Basketball Senda Berenson Abbott-Valvroyensky, is also immortalized here.

Lithuanian Parliament Bans Symbol Commemorating Soviet Liberation from Nazis

Lithuanian Parliament Bans Symbol Commemorating Soviet Liberation from Nazis

In late April the Lithuanian parliament adopted and the Lithuanian president signed into law legislation banning the public display of the ribbon of St. George, usually worn on Victory Day in Lithuania to mark the liberation of the country by the Red Army from Nazi Germany in 1944.

According to Lithuanian parliamentarians it symbolizes Russian aggression in the Ukraine and is now banned along with hammers, sickles and swastikas.

The draft legislation had included bans on the public display of the letter Z, but this was apparently removed from the final draft with the parliament’s Cultural Committee pointing out Z is a common company logo and that Russian troops in the Ukraine are also using the letters V, O, X and A. The Cultural Committee also said use of letters by Russian troops appeared to be arbitrary and subject to change as the campaign continues.

David Harris’s Speech at Ponar on Yom haShoah

David Harris’s Speech at Ponar on Yom haShoah

American Jewish Committee chief executive officer David Harris spoke at the Ponar Memorial Complex and at a reception afterwards held in Vilnius on Yom haShoah, Holocaust Day, on April 28.

Harris announced his intentions last summer to leave the post in which he has served for 32 years now, with the current month of May as the target date for his retirement.

“For the past 31 years as CEO, David has built AJC into the leading global Jewish advocacy organization it is today,” wrote AJC president Harriet P. Schleifer in a letter to AJC’s leadership. “A tireless visionary and a passionate advocate for world Jewry, the State of Israel and democratic values, David’s leadership has been a gift to AJC and to the Jewish people.”

Lithuanians at March of the Living in Poland

Lithuanians at March of the Living in Poland

Members of the Lithuanian public took part April 28 in a March of the Living procession at Auschwitz. People from 25 countries including non-Jews attended.

The event was timed to commemorate the Warsaw Uprising on April 28. Marchers walked about 3.5 kilometers from the Auschwitz museum to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. A group of about 50 people from Lithuania attended. A ceremony to honor the victims took place at the former concentration camp. This began with a word of welcome in 25 languages, including “sveiki,” meaning hello, in Lithuanian. Polish president Andrzej Duda spoke there and used the occasion to compare the war in the Ukraine to the Holocaust.

Survivors spoke of the horror of the camp. Edward Mosberg recalled the murder of his family and spoke about his life history. Torches were lit during the ceremony to symbolize the loss of 6 million murdered Jews. A female university student from Lithuania lit one torch in concert with young people from Germany, Austria, Poland and Israel.

Those who came from Lithuania for the march included Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community chairman Sania Karbelis and other members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, and others.

Following the event participants had the chance to meet Righteous Gentile Chiune Sugihara’s son Nobuki.